Sunday, March 04, 2007

There's Ray! Plus: Plenty of Room For More Brains at Microsoft.

Hey, There's Ray! Commentary on Ray Ozzie's recent Goldman Sachs Technology Investment Symposium appearance (transcript, webcast) :

Overall, the reaction seems to be: "Meh." For whatever reason, I feel there's an increasing expectation for Ray to walk onto the stage with a TabletPC cradled in each arm blazing innovative thoughts for the future that leave the audience agog. Now everyone is looking towards Mix07 for the "Wow" because this last presentation came up short.

I hope that we manage to make this a wave of shipped innovation with a squad of technical leaders - not just Mr. Ozzie - delivering connected service after service that both acknowledge the need for an open, non-insular connected existence and that heavily leverages the power of a rich-client environment running under Windows. Right now, one shinning example of this to me is Windows Live Writer. I love that little bugger. And it's not just tightly coupled with Spaces but rather plays well with others.

Where's Blake? There goes Blake Irving, another Corporate VP:

Ouch! Snap! Some recent Vista / Office 2007 unluvin':

(1) SpendMatters Vista, Office and Outlook 2007 are a Nightmare: specifically, the same problems I've having as well with Outlook 2007 being mega slow:

The problem -- which is absolutely inexcusable -- is that Office 2007 (Outlook, specifically) crawls, even on this superfast machine. The hard-drive is also constantly in motion, slowing things down even more. I'm not alone in these observations. You can read other Office 2007 horror stories here and here. Despite a small .PST file -- I reduced mine from close to a gig to less than 150 MB -- my Intel Centrino Duo-driven notebook chugs along like a 386 trying to run an application originally written for a mainframe system. Even such tasks as composing a simple email are delayed by a few seconds before my typed words ultimately appear on the screen (and send / receives and related activities take an eternity).

(2) Windows Vista I’m Breaking up with You ~ Chris Pirillo - Movie Maker crashes, LifeCam no-workie, no device drivers, software incompatibilities, and more and more woes. Best quote: "The Whoa starts now."

What I tell everyone: just buy a new machine to run Vista on. Unless you're a fan of flagellation (and relieving the sting of via blogging), don't upgrade an old machine that's collected precious application cargo and devices. Goodness forbid you have an unsupported Creative sound-card, for instance. Mr. Pirillo got a load of comments on this one and follows up with Where Windows Pundits Went Wrong and Switching from XP to Vista to XP to… (where he affirms the cool things that Microsoft makes. Just not Vista.).

Post Stack-Ranked Future First Step: something that I think would be a significant first step from unhealthy peer vs. peer performance ranking: Team Compensation for Performance. I was talking with a friend who used to work at big hardware manufacturer. He said their main bonus budget and dispersion was directly attached to the goals their team's leadership put together to deliver for the upcoming year and how well they did on those goals. Regular updates through the quarter were shared with the employees. The goals were S.M.A.R.T. and aggressive and directly tied to business results.

The better the whole team performed on delivering those results, the better all of their bonus was. Stock and raises were used for distinguishing individual performance.

Brains! Now I'm really scared. First I was pissed-off and horrified at how much and how quickly Microsoft's number of employees grew for no obvious business need. Now, hearing about the contents in the latest InsideMS post by Chris Owens, we're not only expanding our building construction and acquisition in the Redmond area quickly to deal with the stuffed-sardine situation most groups have but we're also... hold on, I've got to steady myself... we're also planning to accommodate another... deep breath... 10,000 to 12,000 Redmond-area hires.

(Insert your favorite sound effect of my head exploding.)

Why?

Is your group lacking talent to execute? What have we done to rebalance and recruit internally? We're already staggering to operate effectively with our current mass of employees, how in the world do we expect to be effective with even more? And if Redmond grows by 12,000 people, how much of that will be matched with global hiring?

And Redmond certainly doesn't need another 12,000 Microsoft drivers bumper-to-bumpering the local streets.

Let's take a hiring breather first and do some quality internal recruiting. I would then usually insert a pithy, "...and then you know, fire a bunch of underperformers" remark here, but right now I'm singularly interested in holding the line.

Comment round-up: some comments that caught my eye over the past week:

(1) Been a few places since I left MS. Landed at a startup with a whole lot of older former MS folks. They're all good, know what they're doing, and have lots of experience. Makes it a real fun place to work. Keep whacking the Kim's over there - they make great hires.

(2) Dr. Seuss meets Mini-Microsoft commenters (the beginning - navigate for the rest):

Oh the places you'll go! Oh the things that you'll do! You'll work your ass off To be ranked Limited II! You'll listen to morons Who know not what they do! [...]

(3) Manager feedback is closed, but something to think about regarding honest feedback: Right now, my career in this divison is basically over - I'm given conflicting feedback on career progress and progress against commitments. I'm at a level where the jobs are few and far in between so I'm just laying low and waiting for something else come along because I need the paycheck.

(4) Regarding Career Compass and HR career management fatigue: I almost wish there was a checkbox on the benefits website where I could opt-out of receiving stock options & bonuses as long as I didn't have to waste time with reviews and whatever other ridiculous paperwork HR forces on software engineers each year.

(5) Some folks are receiving an HR survey about the compensation system. One comment on that from someone filling out the survey: I came out very well last review but to put it bluntly, I had to manage up, manipulate, etc to get my reward. I delivered great results (E) but this is Microsoft, everybody delivers results. How do you stand out? So I did what I had to do and I know it came at the expense of other Es - I know this for a fact

I wish I did not have to do this and since I was able to manipulate the process, the process is flawed.

I could keep quiet about this and say the process works but I do want to make this place better. Somedays I don't think it will never get better but hope springs eternal.

I was very honest in that survey and the results on the 1st page was UGLY for us as a company.


176 comments:

MSFTextrememakeover said...

"we're also planning to accommodate another... deep breath... 10,000 to 12,000 Redmond-area hires."

Well, you at least have to admire Ballmer's decision to go out in a spectacular ball of flames vs just a slow burn out. :-) Totally agree btw - that's just insane. How many of those people will actually be involved in coding or otherwise shipping product? 1 in 10? 20? 50? Headcount growth post-00 has already been totally out of control. MSFT should freeze US employee growth completely except for strategic initiatives (at least wrt Redmond), and any incremental headcount should only occur where sales growth is also forecast to ramp (i.e. primarily emerging markets).

Anonymous said...

"I hope that we manage to make this a wave of shipped innovation with a squad of technical leaders - not just Mr. Ozzie - delivering connected service after service that both acknowledge the need for an open, non-insular connected existence and that heavily leverages the power of a rich-client environment running under Windows."

And, here's how that should work. Mini-version on cloud AND desktop (where there is no WI-FI). File on cloud AND desktop (for same reason + backup + collaborate) and program keeps track of versioning.

Rich stuff on cloud OR desktop with subscription on cloud and paid in full version on desktop.

Cool huh? More thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Mix is a fucking joke. Come on now, how hard is it to use a proper format for that header on http://visitmix.com/. Color scheme is retarded. Look at all those JPEG compression artifacts - no self respecting designer would be caught dead with garbage like this. And that's exactly the audience they should be shooting for.

mighty mouse said...

My hat is off to the individual who said that "kims make great hires" because, yes, we do. We learned a lot at Microsoft and gave back more than we got and stayed well past the point of no return because we believed the concept that merit wins out of mediocracy and that there are remedies for bad managers and alternatives to bad groups. I took a highly prized graduate degree with me because the head of my group told me it was worthless to him. Now who is responsible for the disconnect between him and his direct report, my manager, who signed all of those tuition reimbursement vouchers? So for every hard working "Kim" that finally gets it and walks out, they have to hire two or three others to do the same level of work. Because, sure as the day is long, the unwatered plants on my former team are not going to step up, think out of the box, give a little extra, or whatever one does to warrant staying in the job let alone thriving at it. And why should they? They are the smart ones after all. Why work harder when they've found a comfortable cubbyhole to wait out until they have enough to retire. After all, they are getting yearly raises, stock grants, and bonues for just that. Me? I'd rather be where I am now, doing good work, getting better at it, thinking about things that are going to make a difference and actually getting to execute on them because there is no interference from those folks ostensibly on my team. And, I never have to worry about going back to Microsoft, no matter what I do, accomplish, or achieve. Because I am a "Kim" and HR would not touch me with a barge pole. Oddly enough, I'm sleeping better at night.

Anonymous said...

Come on, Mini. Are you that Gull-i-Bull? Ray's "appearance" was a total manipulation, and very last minute. That's part of the reason for it being 99.9% Content Free. It was engineered to help deflect some of the criticism/worry/angst/blogging about the sudden departure of so many execs and the absolute mess that Live is in. Blake is the first of what one can hope is many Partner-level kingpins who will be leaving RSN. Stay tuned. It's going to be fun to watch.

Anonymous said...

As an ex-MSFT, I could talk for hours about what is wrong with MSFT, its products, organization, processes and so on. However, the 3 things below – technical and business leadership and overall mission – seem (to me) to be at the root of every problem. Until all 3 are fixed, MSFT will continue to be a cash-generating giant that one day, like Colossus of Rhodes, may be shaken down, brought to its knees and never rise back.

Ozzie. I doubt Ozzie will do Microsoft any good any time soon. We live in the era of interoperability and integration. Both products Ozzie designed – Notes and Groove – have the opposite philosophy. Each is a complete self-sufficient closed universe and you either need to live in it entirely or give up on it. Because of that, Ozzie does not seem a great candidate for re-building MSFT’s technical strategy.

Ballmer. He’s a salesman. Steve Jobs is a product manager. If a company wants to create great products, a product manager needs to be in charge, not a salesman. Unfortunately, Ozzie does not look very convincing in that role (see above).

Mission. Most importantly, though, Microsoft lacks ideology, mission or any kind of a central theme. In early 90s it was “Windows on every desktop”. The mission was very clear – $50 from every desktop. MSFT rewrote all apps to be Windows apps to support the platform and Microsoft was an unstoppable machine for 3 years or so.

Then came COM. It was a piece of crap – poor implementation, bad developer tools, and practically non-existent guidelines. Nevertheless, the mission was crystal clear – all apps should be COM apps – and for 3-4 more years Microsoft repeated the same success. Too bad that COM pissed developers so much they fled to Java at the first chance.

DOTNET was a misfire – it was marketed to be as universal as COM, but everyone learned – in a hard way – that it is not. Microsoft could not unite neither community nor itself to rewrite everything DOTNET. Well, they tried (in Vista) and we all know the results – 3-year slip and yet another rewrite back in C++.

Microsoft needs a long-term mission that everybody, inside and outside, can understand and act upon. Don’t know about you, but to me “empowering people” sounds vague. It’s generic as solipsism – any software fits. “Better together” and “integrated innovation” turned out to be a disaster because developers translated it into an excuse to make tightly-coupled designs quickly turned to spaghetti code and inability to innovate. There was a great one – “information at your fingertips” – but for some reason it never became a central theme for the company and now Google has taken over it.

Without a mission, it’s impossible to create a technical or marketing strategy. Without a mission/ideology, Microsoft will continue to be killed by internal entropy and organizational Brownian motion. However, a salesman cannot create a great mission statement, and his peer product person does not seem to be capable either (see above).

Anonymous said...

So I'm one of those that is in the "eh, so what" camp on Ozzie. I really just don't get the hype...haven't seen the value yet. Not that we're looking for the dual Tablet wielding Moses here, but seriously, something more would be nice. Even the Goldman interview is substance-less and high level. WHERE ARE ALL THE LEADERS????

Anonymous said...

> I've got to steady myself... we're also planning to accommodate another... deep breath... 10,000 to 12,000 Redmond-area hires.

I am in HR and I am a positive person. I look at the positives and please do the same.

This is opportunity for 20-30 new VPs and 60-80 new partners. ( each VP has 3-4 partner quota )

This is going to increase the local house prices. We are going to get about 500 - 750 new HR people and possibly a new HR VP.

Anonymous said...

What I tell everyone: just buy a new machine to run Vista on. Unless you're a fan of flagellation (and relieving the sting of via blogging), don't upgrade an old machine that's collected precious application cargo and devices. Goodness forbid you have an unsupported Creative sound-card, for instance.

Don't tell your customers that Vista's a $1000 upgrade! That computer they bought last year or even the year before does everything they want in WinXP now, so why should they pay for a whole new one to run Vista?

The case for Vista has not yet been made to your customers.

Anonymous said...

I recently left MS after 7+ years for a local opportunity. Reasons:
Usual Suspects.

Maybe, I will come back in 3 years and re-join the feeding frenzy at a much higher level, with the level inflation I have been seeing before I left.

I wonder if this rapid hire is partly due to the 8% attrition rate MS has been seeing aka GE-ification.
Or, perhaps, MS is hedging for more
H1-b or L3 transfers in the coming years. Dunno. Or, perhaps MS has some secret projects in a bunker somewhere, which will lead to ultimate victory!

Come on, folks. Praetorian Prefect Kevin is cleaning house (see all the departures) while Emperor Steve is trying to stave off the barbarian horde. Who do you think will be the next emperor at MS? I think that Mini got his wish, but the dead weight is more heavily weighted towards the leadership, not just the rank and file. We shall see.

Anonymous said...

Recently I met someone, who started working at Microsoft couple months ago. While chatting, I asked her why she joined Microsoft, and her response was "great benefits!". I think that is the final drop and I realize I'm done with this company. When I joined many years ago, my response to that question was 'fun, making a difference, my code reaching to millions, learning lots of things from the gurus'. Those points don't seem to hold for a new hire anymore, which indicates how this company is viewed from outside. It is just sad!

Anonymous said...

There's a reason why Ozzie only merits a ho-hum reaction from anyone besides BG and the Monkey-Boy.

Have any of you ever USED Lotus Notes? I know it was wildly popular, but that buying decision was made by people who didn't know how easy it is to just set up an NNTP server for free. Notes is a very poor re-implementation of free software that had already been around for decades when Lotus was first touting CC Mail.

If that's your new Vision guy, then he's the one-eyed man with severe glaucoma in the land of the blind.

Anonymous said...

As an ex-MSFT, I could talk for hours about what is wrong with MSFT, its products, organization, processes and so on. However, the 3 things below – technical and business leadership and overall mission – seem (to me) to be at the root of every problem. Until all 3 are fixed, MSFT will continue to be a cash-generating giant that one day, like Colossus of Rhodes, may be shaken down, brought to its knees and never rise back.

This guy nailed it. Brilliant analysis of what is wrong with Microsoft.

Microstiff said...

"Have any of you ever USED Lotus Notes? I know it was wildly popular, but that buying decision was made by people who didn't know how easy it is to just set up an NNTP server for free. Notes is a very poor re-implementation of free software that had already been around for decades when Lotus was first touting CC Mail.

If that's your new Vision guy, then he's the one-eyed man with severe glaucoma in the land of the blind."


You're dead wrong about Notes. As one who taught Notes and Domino Admin and Basic Notes Dev, I can tell you that the combination of email, resource (conf. room, projector, etc.) scheduling, and database/website creation with the email was awesome!

Two problems: 1. Ram/CPU hog at a time (90's) when ram and clock speed wasn't there (I trained and entire huge law firm who was converting over from Wordperfect Office(?). It was more robust but sloooowwwww! Sys. Admin. got fired for the oversight!)

2. Programmers hate it! There's 3 languages to learn, all of them intertwined: Command Language (@), Lotus Script and Javascript.

I designed an entire web application using Domino and these capabilities. It allowed local small businesses to have instant websites with email marketing and instant online updates (say your gas price needed to be changed at your station). Works like a charm!

No, Ray Ozzie "geniused" that app, no doubt.

Remains to be seen whether he can do it now.

Anonymous said...

Have any of you ever USED Lotus Notes? I know it was wildly popular, but that buying decision was made by people who didn't know how easy it is to just set up an NNTP server for free.

I once worked as administrator and developer on the Domino/Notes platform, and I can assure you, that an NNTP server does not in any way match the functionality of Domino/Notes.

The best thing about Notes is how easy it is to crank out great workflow applications with integrated security, by using the "Domino Designer" client. Besides that Domino is cross platform, extremely scalable and extremely stable.

This is not to say that Domino/Notes doesnt have it disadvantages, because it certainly do. The userinterface sucks for mail, standards compliance is so-so (at best), the client is very fat, and the setup is pretty expensive too.

So I am not really surprised that the Exchange/Outlook combo won in the end. But still, an NNTP server is a far cry from the functionality that Domino/Notes offers.

And that leads me to my main point. While I admire the technical provess of Ray Ozzie, I really wonder if a "fat client" guy like him, is the right person to take MS into an open world of web-based services.

I have my doubts...

Anonymous said...

how much would 10k extra local hires cost?

Anonymous said...

Have any of you ever USED Lotus Notes? I know it was wildly popular, but that buying decision was made by people who didn't know how easy it is to just set up an NNTP server for free. Notes is a very poor re-implementation of free software that had already been around for decades when Lotus was first touting CC Mail.

If that's your new Vision guy, then he's the one-eyed man with severe glaucoma in the land of the blind.


I hated cc-colon-mail, as much because of a dumb product name as anything. (cc to mail? wtf? or "hey, our email lets you cc electronically", which implies that others don't) And Lotus Notes was overcomplicated for what it did.

Still, you have to admire the company for coming up with something close enough to equivalent to an intranet Usenet News, that they were able to get lots of people to pay them lots of money for it. This parallels the type of innovation that MS has had success with. Not necessarily coming up with groundbreaking ideas on its own, but commercializing ones it noticed out there in the wild. Windows? (Xerox Parc) IE? (Mosaic) Exchange? (MS' own version of taking a simple net tool, sendmail, and overcomplicating it because folks at MS couldn't tell back then that proprietary email systems were going the way of do-do's and everything would be TCP-based in the future.)

If I had to guess, the ability to commercialize technology, rather than to think up groundbreaking new ideas, is what some in the top ranks of MSFT see in Ozzie.

Anonymous said...

Without a mission/ideology, Microsoft will continue to be killed by internal entropy and organizational Brownian motion.

Sniff! That's just beautiful man. I think that's the first time ever someone worked that into a comment on business.
That concept so perfectly encapsulates much of what we seem to do around here. It goes beyond Dilbertism, Machiavellianism, even the rampant PUM/GM/Partner Necrotism (where you hire the brain dead and let them rise to power)

Anonymous said...

In the last couple of years it seems changes to compensation are used by MSFT to implement stealth cuts, so be careful what you ask for. In the field certain roles were eligible for a tenure bonus which rewarded us for staying on an account over a period of years. These tenure bonuses were very significant percentages of our base pay (ranging from 5% to 20%) depending on tenure.

Last year this significant incentive program was replaced with a quarterly revenue challenge. If teams meet all of their quarterly revenue quotas for the year they can receive up to 3 percent of their base pay as a bonus. Even the 3 percent is subject to limitations based on the number of teams that qualify and the amount of money available in the pool.

I'm all in favor of trying new things but not if it’s a thinly masked cut in compensation and benefits. While these stealth cuts may not drive hordes of Softies to the door it does encourage many to become Kims.

Solomonster said...

[ex-msftie, 5+ yrs, 2 years removed]
(add mock classic Ballmer voice) " I love this website!"
seriously. If anyone ever wonders how so many passionate folks end up at Microsoft, this site is an example. Even after we leave, its still part of the community we love to rant about in the hope that one day things are right in the way of the universe there again.

[insert real comment here]
For me, I came to the conclusion that I wanted different challenges than I was finding at Microsoft. sure the politics of the day made if difficult, but leaving was a way to find a better fit for my goals. Microsoft doesn't have to be in ruins for me to validate my reasons for leaving. Its still an amazing place. But for all of the readers/posters who want to put the place down because you're personally ready for something different, take the much talked about advice on the site and try your luck at a different table. If you were a worthy hire at Microsoft before, you'll be ready for the challenges and opportunities in the rest of the marketplace.

Anonymous said...

I am in HR and I am a positive person. I look at the positives and please do the same.

This is opportunity for 20-30 new VPs and 60-80 new partners. ( each VP has 3-4 partner quota )

This is going to increase the local house prices. We are going to get about 500 - 750 new HR people and possibly a new HR VP.


Wow. Everybody who has said here that HR is part of the problem, this guy just proved your point. Microsoft's going to turn into a black hole under the weight of all these new bodies (incredible mass, but emit nothing), and this guy's rejoicing because his kingdom is going to see growth. He's not looking at what's good for Microsoft, but only what's good for HR.

Seems to me like Microsoft needs to fire all of HR and start over...

MSS

Anonymous said...

10-12,000 more employees? Since that is not needed, I'd say someone is about to get burned bad. All Microsoft has to do is say they need that many, fail to get them, be allowed more H-1Bs, who work cheaper and are willing to work 80+ hours, and you Americans will be needed less and less. Microsoft has few options to increase profits so why not make drastic human capital cuts?

Anonymous said...

Lighten up people -- Microsoft is still a great place to work. It may not be the same place it was ten years ago, but I’m sure even back then there were many who were lamenting how Microsoft had changed, how the new hires weren’t as smart or motivated, etc. Besides, you’re not really as special as you think!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad we're finally getting rid of Dan Ling... he was running MSR to the ground basically since Myhrvold was pushed out in 1999. I doubt Rico Malvar is the best guy to replace him. Malvar is a much better politician than he is a researcher. His main contribution was to tweak existing multimedia compression techniques just enough to get out of patent protection so as can use them and not get sued. Important, no question. Not very innovative. There are much higher quality people outside that we can recruit to run MSR. Let's think of Rico as a placeholder for the best of them.

Anonymous said...

What MORON designed the Mix 07 page? Do you realize that your target audience is web developers and designers, and not kids who are having their first drawing session in kindergarten. What the hell is this? Be PROFESSIONAL!!!

Anonymous said...

Bill Gates sold 20 million shars in February, netting $580 million:

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/filings-show-gates-sold-20/story.aspx?guid=%7B49EF9F15%2D1156%2D44BC%2DA94B%2D6C851DD00B63%7D&siteid=yhoo&dist=yhoo

Lockergnome said...

So, the question is... should Microsoft hire me? :)

Anonymous said...

So, the question is... should Microsoft hire me? :)

With a body like that, how could we resist.

Anonymous said...

"Everybody who has said here that HR is part of the problem, this guy just proved your point.

MSS"

A little slow on the uptake today, are we?

Anonymous said...

>> All Microsoft has to do is say they need that many, fail to get them, be allowed more H-1Bs, who work cheaper and are willing to work 80+ hours, and you Americans will be needed less and less.

Not sure what your point is, but there are two things this blog has established -

1. Almost everyone at Microsoft works cheaper than what they can make elsewhere.

2. Almost everyone works 80+ hours.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to dispel some false notions here:


1) "The H1Bs are coming!"

- it is incredibly difficult to get an h1B visa since there is a cap of 65000 of these visas. This cap includes *all* the people that call be hired in *all* the companies in the US in one year.

2)H1Bs are "cheap labour" - As a new hire straight out of college, I am getting paid $75+ K per year... Which is about what any other new hire at MS gets paid.

by: newlyAssimilated

Anonymous said...

Right now, one shinning example of this to me is Windows Live Writer.

And Windows Live Writer would be...? Never heard of it before.

Anonymous said...

And Windows Live Writer would be...? Never heard of it before.

Geez, even Google knows the answer to that. Use the internets much?

Anonymous said...

Mentioning brains: I can only hope someone in Office leadership follows the yellow brick road running along One Microsoft Way soon and manages to get a big heaping dose of brains from The Wizard to help them figure out some compelling features for Office 14 before coding starts in, oh, less than two months. Or else it is going to be "Eh" all over again (I'm looking at you, Office 2003).

Right now, I am at a loss regarding what in the world it is we're going to be selling that is actually interesting to an end user. I ask people what they are excited about on their team and, by the look on their face, you would think they had just caught me with my hand in their pocket. Everyone is just shuffling along, spec'ing or developing or testing whatever boring thing comes their way.

And me? I'm doing informationals and it looks like I'll have some loops soon with some super-interesting groups. Thank God for Intent-to-Interview. I don't want to ship "Eh." I want to ship "Wowzee!" So long, Office!

Anonymous said...

" the combination of email, resource (conf. room, projector, etc.) scheduling, and database/website creation with the email was awesome!"

If that's your idea of "awesome", then you really need to get out more.

Of all the wounds inflicted on the software industry by Lotus and Microsoft, the worst is probably the abysmally low expectations I see all around me.

Anonymous said...

Regarding, "thank god for intent to interview", I'd like a clarification.

I can't tell, precisely, from the internal site, how this works. Do one's manager and VP still have the power to keep one for 3-6 months after one voices intent-to-interview, or can they only use that "ha ha, we can keep you if we want" trick BEFORE one has stayed in one's current group 18 months?

Does anyone know for sure? Guessing would be hazardous to my future on my present team, and I really just want to look around, just in case there's something that is a better fit for my skills elsewhere in the company.

Anonymous said...

> and this guy's rejoicing because his kingdom is going to see growth. He's not looking at what's good for Microsoft, but only what's good for HR.

-
I am not a guy. Lisa promised growth for people in HR. She said it was her top priority when she took the HR job.

How can you provide growth for HR management without hiring more people?

Think about it - HR is the most important function at Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

> I can't tell, precisely, from the internal site, how this works. Do one's manager and VP still have the power to keep one for 3-6 months after one voices intent-to-interview, or can they only use that "ha ha, we can keep you if we want" trick BEFORE one has stayed in one's current group 18 months?

Before 18 months, your manager can keep you from going. After 18 months, he needs VP approval to do so.

Either way, you have to tell your manager before you can schedule interview loop, so if your manager is of wrong kind, you are screwed either way -- once you announce intent to interview, you and your career are on lower level of priorities for your manager. You can kiss that promotion goodbye if somehow you do not get an offer.

Anonymous said...

"Think about it - HR is the most important function at Microsoft."

I would have to disagree with that statement because, I work in Building Maintenance and...well....Building Maintenance is TRULY THE MOST IMPORTANT FUNCTION AT MICROSOFT! At least when applied to KEEPING THE PLACE CLEAN!

HR is the most important provider of employee corporate Mission, Policy and Procedure. Oh, and it's the most important hirer of employees. Oh, and it's the most important towel dispenser at the Softie. But, like Building Maintenance, and IT, its role is one of "facilitator" to the primary missions of Innovation(?), Production and Sales.

Take your diamond-sequined blinders off, dear HR gal!

Anonymous said...

(Hmmm... This comment posting page doesn't display correctly in IE7. I have text overwriting other text.)

Anyway, Anonymous said, "WHERE ARE ALL THE LEADERS????"

This is a good question. The problem is that Microsoft doesn't attract or promote LEADERS. It cultivates MANAGERS. There is a big difference here. I'll leave it up to y'all to discuss the differences between the two verbs 'lead' and 'manage'. I'd suggestm making two columns and listing the synonyms for each word.

Microstiff said...

" the combination of email, resource (conf. room, projector, etc.) scheduling, and database/website creation with the email was awesome!"

If that's your idea of "awesome", then you really need to get out more.


We cut the workload of the "scheduling" secretary by a few important hours and...it became emphatically clear just WHO HAD SCHEDULED WHAT and WHEN. No conflicts, and running back and forth to the "scheduling" secy.

Same is true for the "meetings" function. Various levels of acceptance and rescheduling made it easy to set up a meeting with MANY people.

Those features, alone, made Notes....awesome! Attached to the management of resources was the ability to create databases of department and company information. Access rights handling to the databases was awesome!

And, to all you devs out there. If you want to create a website meant for many small businesses to use as local promotions for their products with with full email agents launching marketing events to your stored prospects...you cannot beat the Notes/Domino platform. It's awesome! Ray Ozzie knows this.

"Of all the wounds inflicted on the software industry by Lotus and Microsoft, the worst is probably the abysmally low expectations I see all around me."

Not sure what you mean by this, pardner, except that you should probably increase your Prozac dosage. Certainly Vista is a step backwards but, once you get past the "File, Open" shock of Office 2007, it's a nice little interface and...it's always been bleeding edge. Office Live, in theory, is a great app for small biz America. Not sure marketing and development are in synch.

No, there's some good software at the Softie and more good, I believe, from Ray Ozzie's group coming down the pike. His efforts have always been "elegant". Just review his past solutions, you'll see.

Anonymous said...

Hi, new to Mini-MSFT. What are Kim's? And how do they make great hires? Also, is there a site or network of ex-MSFT'ers since there seem to be so many of them about :-)

Anonymous said...

As a new hire straight out of college, I am getting paid $75+ K per year... Which is about what any other new hire at MS gets paid.

Consider yourself fortunate. Most H1-B holders I have ever worked with are contractors applying for permanent citizenship. To get laid off means being sent home to start the Visa process all over again, so they do whatever it takes to stay in their sponsor's good graces. They have to stay in the same job for years, getting paid whatever the company decides to pay them (hint: not a lot), until the magic year their green card arrives.

The reason I am against the H1-B program is not protectionism, as some like to call it. I am against it because these workers, who are here due to a supposed undersupply of skilled labor, serve to depress prevailing wages in our sector because of their fear of deportation.

The H1-B program is about companies saving a buck at the cost of American workers, and our compliant government enabling them. It's horseshit, and we all know it.

You just happen to be one of the lucky immigrants that didn't get a raw deal.

Anonymous said...

You're all grumpy. Try to be optimistic and look at the positive side of things. How will Microsoft grow and achieve when it's employees are complaining about how terrible their company is. Let's see you do a better job if you think management is so terrible.

Anonymous said...

"we're also planning to accommodate another... deep breath... 10,000 to 12,000 Redmond-area hires."

It's really very simple. Microsoft has two huge, incredibly profitable monopolies, and that means the only way it can keep growing at a reasonable rate, proportionally speaking, is to come up with another monopoly. And no one knows how to do that, so Microsoft just starts lots of new projects and hopes that one of them will pay off big-time.

And that is why, mini, your entirely understandable desire that Microsoft become lean and mean is just not going to happen.

Anonymous said...

I am not a guy.

OK, I wasn't meaning to offend you on the gender front. For a company that has 80/90% male employees (my guess), "guy" is more-or-less generic. But HR may not be that male dominated; I don't actually know. So, bad assumption, no offense intended.

Lisa promised growth for people in HR. She said it was her top priority when she took the HR job.

How can you provide growth for HR management without hiring more people?


See, that's exactly the problem. The goal of HR is supposed to be to provide the people that the organization needs in order to succeed. The goal of HR is not supposed to be to grow HR.

Think about it - HR is the most important function at Microsoft.

That actually is a reasonable statement - without the right people, the company is in trouble. And if posts here can be believed, Microsoft is in trouble because it has way too many of "not the right people". HR should be worrying about fixing this situation, rather than worrying about whether they can grow the HR department so that HR managers can "grow".

MSS

Anonymous said...

Think about it - HR is the most important function at Microsoft.

This person has got to be a troll. Even with the hiring bar so low, I can't imagine MSFT has hired someone this inane.

Anonymous said...

...How will Microsoft grow and achieve when it's employees are complaining about how terrible their company is.

Microsoft will grow when it addresses the problems of it's employees, customers and shareholders. Thanks for sharing your thoughts LisaB. Now, go back to caddying.

Anonymous said...

>> You just happen to be one of the lucky immigrants that didn't get a raw deal.

Who's to say what is a bad deal? Perhaps the right wage for a Software Engineer really is $250K/yr and it is being depressed by all the newcomers. The protectionist approach with regulatory and licensing hassles has worked nicely to increase wages in the healthcare industry.

Anonymous said...

>> ... serve to depress prevailing wages in our sector because of their fear of deportation.

12 million illegal aliens can testify that few if any people get deported. The only incentive that H1B employees have to stay with a bad employer is the fact that they lose their place in line if they have applied for a greencard.

Anonymous said...

"Think about it - HR is the most important function at Microsoft."

Ummm.... yeah. Think about this, instead. HR doesn't hire people. Product groups hire people. HR manages the goodies that help convince people to work for Microsoft. Ideally, HR should never have to be consulted because everything should be in place. Here are your forms. Fill them out. Never talk to HR again (if only it were so).

You want to gauge who's important? Ok, how much money does HR bring in every year? How much "HR" does Microsoft sell? What is our market share in HR?

Yeah, I thought so.

Anonymous said...

Most H1-B holders I have ever worked with are contractors applying for permanent citizenship. To get laid off means being sent home to start the Visa process all over again, so they do whatever it takes to stay in their sponsor's good graces.

Most H1-Bs at Microsoft are actually in position to leave as they wish. There is a law called AC21 (search the Internet for it, along with "Adjustment of Status" phrase) which allows people who are waiting for green card for a long time to change employers without penalty. Conditions are that you are waiting more than six months for adjustment of status, that you have I-140 approved (or it is reasonable that it will be approved) and that your job at new company has similar description.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... This comment posting page doesn't display correctly in IE7. I have text overwriting other text.

It's fine in Firefox.

jamie said...

http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=288708

Anonymous said...

Mentioning brains: I can only hope someone in Office leadership follows the yellow brick road running along One Microsoft Way soon and manages to get a big heaping dose of brains from The Wizard to help them figure out some compelling features for Office 14 before coding starts in, oh, less than two months.
I work in Office too and have a different experience. Most of the teams I work with (Word, Excel, Visio, Proj, Server teams) are well into feature-speccing and prototyping already. Some teams (you probably know which ones...) even have shorter term deliverables. I can guess that some teams (for e.g. the one where everyone left after 2007) are still in a state of limbo and are trying to figure out what to do for 14.
I interact with Windows on a frequent basis and I think things are significantly worse there, though.

Anonymous said...

This is a good question. The problem is that Microsoft doesn't attract or promote LEADERS. It cultivates MANAGERS. There is a big difference here. I'll leave it up to y'all to discuss the differences between the two verbs 'lead' and 'manage'. I'd suggestm making two columns and listing the synonyms for each word.

Actually, I'd disagree on a couple of fronts. First, Microsoft does not cultivate managers - you're wrong there. Managers at MSFT get shafted left,right and center. Our best managers leave the company or go back to IC work eventually. But, MSFT doesn't cultivate leaders either, so you're batting .500.

I say our problem is too many "leaders" and not enough "managers." You imply leadership and management are seperable functions. They ain't. Leaders who can't manage can't lead, and managers who can't lead can't manage. Leadership is vision, strategy and execution. When people talk about Leadership and Management as separate things (with Management always relegated to 2nd-class status), they're really saying "vision" is king. But vision is easy, and vision without strategy and execution is day-dreaming. The world is full of day dreamers.

The world is not full of people who can craft a strategy that will bring a vision into existence and then drive execution against that strategy. Those few who can are true leaders, and they also know how to manage, because that's a critical part of execution.

Microsoft has a bunch of day-dreamers who fancy themselves leaders. We have muddled strategy and very poor execution.

Anonymous said...

Most H1-Bs at Microsoft are actually in position to leave as they wish. There is a law called AC21[...]

Thank you for the feedback - it is interesting to note that there are further provisions. I would note, however, that this is additional overhead for the worker from the INS.

I would assume it is very time consuming to change status when jobs don't really wait around that long, though I don't know for sure; a speedy wing of the government is sure hard to fathom, though. If I was in the H1-B position, I would see this as additional risk for not much gain, especially since you have to apply for the same job function.

With regard to illegal immigrants versus H1-Bs, its a similar situation for the manufacturing and agricultural sector - fear of deportation and limited rights keeps the hourly wage down and the corporations happy. Build a fence along the border, you cut off the cheap labor supply. Give the immigrants citizenship, you get workers entitled to minimum wage who would unionize faster than you can say "Solidarity."

It's the status quo that corporate America wants: "Latin Rights" instead of "Roman Citizenship," so to speak.

In any case, my beef is with the H1-B program in particular. I know one Microsoftie who deserved far and above what his job classification was, but was stuck in place for almost 5 years. Not only was he being held back by this system, but his junior spot was not being freed up for the next rising star.

If immigrants could competitively bid for jobs like the rest of us, the market would be better off.

Anonymous said...

Blake is leaving because he can't stand Sinofsky, he doesn't want to follow Sinofsky's organizational principles and strategy and has simply lost the fight. Sinofsky is way too influential even for mighty Blake.
The fun part is gonna be watching the domino effect as Blake's MSN boys club gets dismantled for good. That division is doomed. By the time the long due cleanup is finished, the train to compete will be long gone.

c said...

Not sure what your point is, but there are two things this blog has established -

1. Almost everyone at Microsoft works cheaper than what they can make elsewhere.

2. Almost everyone works 80+ hours.


Well, #2 is quite wrong, at least in Office. There are orgs where "work/life balance" isn't just an empty phrase...

Anonymous said...

"You're all grumpy. Try to be optimistic and look at the positive side of things. How will Microsoft grow and achieve when it's employees are complaining about how terrible their company is. Let's see you do a better job if you think management is so terrible."

Well, mean 'ol grumpy me! I'm just not a "day" person, I guess.

I try and try to be positive and, when I am home or out I'm upbeat and fun lovin' but, when I round that curve at 1 Microsoft Way, I just start getting...well...mean and grumpy. Darn!

I just can't help myself. I know that if I just started acting happy and upbeat that, soon, schedules would be met, partners would give back their undeserved millions, software design would get customer input, stock prices would soar, the DOT/FAA would change their minds, Vista would work, secretaries would find the "File" tab, Zune would sell, Office Live would connect to itself, the EU would be happy, Britain wouldn't hate us for high Vista prices, raises and promotions would be democratic, Steve would shut up and Bill would stop screaming, "Fuck!" at meetings and the Softie would once, just once, design, create, market and sell something from scratch!

I would and could do a better job than management is doing but, I'll NEVER get that chance because...well...I am soooooo grumpy!

Anonymous said...

But vision is easy, ... The world is full of day dreamers.

Just because you have a daydream doesn't mean it's good and everybody should execute on it.

People at Microsoft get confused about this all the time. "Hey, we can use a database for a file system!" Well, uhh, maybe. "Hey, we can make a search engine like Google!" Err, I guess? And so on...

Anonymous said...

This is a good question. The problem is that Microsoft doesn't attract or promote LEADERS. It cultivates MANAGERS.

Though I've read follow-up posts that disagree with you, I do not. You've stated very clearly one of the largest MS problems.

My experience is that these managers who are unable to lead grow in stature at the company but seek concepts, ideas, etc. from below. In an ironic twist, these managers are often the very people that Microsoft has defined as keenly necessary to the company's future success.

The type of individual who can act as both a leader and a manager exists, but they're very very rare. I've known too many leaders who qualify as visionaries but are horrific managers (as they see their perspective and only their perspective). I've known far more managers who can corral people, but would bore the dead and have no idea how to separate 'good' ideas from 'bad' ideas.

Anonymous said...

>"You're all grumpy. Try to be optimistic and look at the positive side of things. How will Microsoft grow and achieve when it's employees are complaining about how terrible their company is. Let's see you do a better job if you think management is so terrible."

We here at MS just have higher expectations of our leaders than maybe you have at your workplace.

A sharp analytic mind is a key asset here and, like any giant company, we have our issues.

We bitch because we care. If we didn't care, we'd just leave.

Anonymous said...

Most H1-Bs at Microsoft are actually in position to leave as they wish. There is a law called AC21[...]

I would assume it is very time consuming to change status when jobs don't really wait around that long, though I don't know for sure; a speedy wing of the government is sure hard to fathom, though. If I was in the H1-B position, I would see this as additional risk for not much gain, especially since you have to apply for the same job function.


Actually, read a bit more about AC21 -- there is no need to file any forms, send anything to USCIS, nothing. Assuming you have your EAD (conviniently provided by MSFT, but everyone can just go and apply for one if he/she is in 'adjustment of status' phase), you just show at new job and use it to prove eligibility for working. Once your priority date (old one, there is no new one to speak of) is current, either of two things can happen:

a) INS will send you green card without questions;
b) Sometimes, INS will call you for RFE appointment (request for evidence) where is enough to present that you work in similar job as in previous company and that you have worked for old company during six months period after submitting I-485 (pay stubs are fine). Note that burden of proof is now on INS -- they have to go extra mile to prove if they suspect that you have abused the system.

So, all in all, there is no much risk. I am not a lawyer, consult a lawyer (preferably at prospecting company :), your mileage may vary.

Fred said...

Anonymous @ 4:44:

I am speechless. Sheer brilliance, sir (or madam). Well done!

Anonymous said...

"2)H1Bs are "cheap labour" - As a new hire straight out of college, I am getting paid $75+ K per year... Which is about what any other new hire at MS gets paid."

MS pays $80-95k+ to agencies for the average contractor.

Anonymous said...

I came across a pretty startling find today. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_bob) says "Despite its ambitious nature, Bob failed to penetrate the market and is considered Microsoft's worst program, and their largest failure.
...
The project leader for Bob was Karen Fries, a Microsoft researcher.
"

Look her up in outlook. SHE'S A PARTNER. If you can make a mistake like this that has gone down in MS-Lore as the biggest joke in product development in almost 2 decades - what can we say about the future of accountablility of partners?

Anonymous said...

Now only if MS hired that research guy from that east coast CS skool before google did. I heard that he presented his military research to MS BEFORE he went to google, but MS ignored him. Didn't even give him a talking rain lime soda! I heard that google paid big $$$ for him to join, instead going back into military research. Heard his stuff will revolutionize search (again). Old news...

I am not sure who was in the meeting, but man, someone definitely screwed the pooch here. I wonder if analysts read here... :) Look it up. 'Tis be true.

Anonymous said...

In regard to billg's recent capital hill sermon ... he should be distressed. In virtually every instance where a U.S. CS grad had the option to join Google or MS they chose Google. The grey matter has to come from somewhere - I guess we'll have to issue more H1Bs. The immigration thing does need work, but how many U.S. grads today saw their parents, uncles, cousins displaced during the tech crash or had their companies bullied under by the (today) curiously conscientious Mr. Gates? Many were victims. Many even who worked at MS were victims of Gates' rapacity. Who would want to join an industry or a company like that? It was good theater for Gates to be on the hill at the same time Rubin was scolding Google on IP rights. It was all very macabre and hollow sounding - and so out of place considering Mr. Gate's overall track record.

Anonymous said...

"the first of what one can hope is many Partner-level kingpins who will be leaving RSN. Stay tuned. It's going to be fun to watch."

Chris Payne - another one bites the dust. Having had him and his friends and family hiring policy drive the MSN platform into the deck he managed to repeat it Search too.

Of course I'm sure as he jumps out of the plane that his stock parachute will mean a soft landing in a pile of greenbacks though.

I'm only jealous.

Anonymous said...

Christopher Payne's leaving too

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/306479_msftpayne07ww.html

Anonymous said...

Well you have to give KevinJo some credit for cleaning house in the exec ranks of his org. Although portrayed as a decision to pursue 'other opportunities', it clear this is an attempt to shake things up in both the Windows area (moving in BillV) and the disaster that is MSN and Windows Live. Who is next on the chopping block?

Anonymous said...

>> MS pays $80-95k+ to agencies for the average contractor.

In fact it pays a little bit more than that (110K+ even for engineers), but that number does not include any benefits or the propect of career growth. On top of this the agency takes a big bite out of the billing rate so the a- does not get all the money.

The OPs $75K number is base salary to which you can add 17+K in medical/dental/vision/heath club, 5K in stock based compensation and 5-7K in annual bonus and the opportunity to get a merit raise every year. For the a-, it is a better deal overall to be a fte.

Anonymous said...

>You want to gauge who's important? Ok, how much money does HR bring in every year? How much "HR" does Microsoft sell? What is our market share in HR?

--

Sir, you are ignorant of the value added by HR. We account for all the revenue brought in by Microsoft. You may ask how?

HR is the only group which interacts from a fresh hire to execs. HR is the only group that talks to product dev, legal, finance, support and research.

HR keeps the whole machine moving. HR has assembled the best HR from fortune 500. If you assemble the best team, one has to provide career growth.

The rule of thumb is one HR for every 20 employees. The ideal ratio is one HR for every 10 employees.

Anonymous said...

> Christopher Payne's leaving too

-
A great man leaves and search is orphaned.

Anonymous said...

I would and could do a better job than management is doing but, I'll NEVER get that chance because...well...I am soooooo grumpy!

"Sounds like someone's got a case of the Microsofts."

Anonymous said...

The rule of thumb is one HR for every 20 employees. The ideal ratio is one HR for every 10 employees.
what !?!?! I need HR on the day I start my employment to explain me the 'benefits', to hand out the forms I have to fill in/sign and receive such forms. Then when I quit the company to go through the 'Exit Interview'. That's it. I don't deal (nor do I want to) with HR at all during my whole employment - Seems like this type of job is a great candidate to be outsourced overseas, or replaced via a SharePoint site.

Anonymous said...

>> In any case, my beef is with the H1-B program in particular.

No, rather your beef should be with the abuse of the H1B program both by private participants and the government. It is just not credible to complain against the entire program when there are tons of counterexamples to every bad apple you point out.

>> I know one Microsoftie who deserved far and above what his job classification was, but was stuck in place for almost 5 years.

This has nothing to do with the H1B program, rather everything to do with job performance and his ability to manage up. You can accept ladder level promotions and go from sde to sde lead while staying on the H1B. Where it does put a crimp in matters is if you want to change disciplines.

Anonymous said...

The OPs $75K number is base salary to which you can add 17+K in medical/dental/vision/heath club, 5K in stock based compensation and 5-7K in annual bonus and the opportunity to get a merit raise every year. For the a-, it is a better deal overall to be a fte.

I know a guy (STE) who was laid off from MSN last December and, a month later, came back to MSN as a- for $12,000 more a year (after Excell Data deducted benefits -- granted not as nice as Microsoft's, but for a bachelor it will do)

Anonymous said...


Sir, you are ignorant of the value added by HR. We account for all the revenue brought in by Microsoft. You may ask how?

HR is the only group which interacts from a fresh hire to execs. HR is the only group that talks to product dev, legal, finance, support and research.

HR keeps the whole machine moving. HR has assembled the best HR from fortune 500. If you assemble the best team, one has to provide career growth.

The rule of thumb is one HR for every 20 employees. The ideal ratio is one HR for every 10 employees.


While I'm glad to see that LisaB's folks are monitoring Mini to get the pulse on FTEs at MS, I'd have to say that I've been extremely disappointed by the rantings that the Lisa Clone has been providing of late.

"HR keeps the whole machine moving....one has to provide career growth." I don't quite see how HR is "keeping the whole machine moving", while I can't say that I was overly thrilled with the previous review process, I'm even less impressed with this whole "Career Compass" BS. "One has to provide career growth" Why? Maybe I LIKE my job, maybe I'm GOOD at it, maybe, just maybe, I don't WANT to be a manager? I like being a grunt in the trenches who is working with our end-customers day-in and day-out fixing their problems that they encounter deploying our software. Why did my mid-year review go from being "here is how you're doing so far, here is how you can improve by the end-of-year review" to "where do you want to be when you grow up?"

It IS NOT HR's job to have me waste time that I should be spending working with customers, improving my skills on our new technologies, or maybe trying some of that 'life' part of work-life balance going through the BS that is Career Compass and then not getting any "how you're doing so far" feedback on my mid-year.

To your other point:
The rule of thumb is one HR for every 20 employees. The ideal ratio is one HR for every 10 employees.

OH MY [insert diety of choice]!!! (See, I can be Politically Correct...) You're got to be kidding us, even at 1:20, what would we do with that many HR people? While I've spent much of my time at MS wondering, "what is it that my manager REALLY does?" your comments have made me decide that I need to change my mindset to "What the [insert explitive of choice] are the HR folks doing that we need 3700 of them and they're wanting to double their ranks to get to the 'ideal' ration of 1:10?" 'Ideal' for who? The rank-and-file? NOPE. The Shareholders? NOPE. The cronies who will spout LisaB's mantra and blow sunshine everywhere they can? YOU BETCHA!!!!!

We need more BS coming out of HR like we need a hole in the head. Just let me do my job and get out of our way.

Maybe you could enlighten us, "What has HR done for us lately?" Please cite specific examples. So far all I've seen is lipstick on the stack-ranking pig and BS like Career Compass. PLEASE let me just get back to doing my job and not spending time with your stupid crap that allows your staff to double while those of us who work for a living are seeing hiring freezes in their groups.

Anonymous said...

> A great man leaves and search is orphaned.

Ha-ha, What have Payne (and Ken Moss) actually acomplished in the last few years with that massive headcount.

Anonymous said...

HR is the only group which interacts from a fresh hire to execs. HR is the only group that talks to product dev, legal, finance, support and research.

I work in server marketing. Our HR guy is almost never reachable in mail, phone, or any other means. I thought it was just me and then I asked around and turns out this guy is the same way with everbody.

So once again what is the value delivered by HR that requires this much scale? I found it very amusing you never articulated the value of HR beyond saying "we are in contact with new hires to execs in all disciplines" - you are in contact doing what?

Not to go office space on you, but what is it you do around here?

Anonymous said...

The rule of thumb is one HR for every 20 employees. The ideal ratio is one HR for every 10 employees.

Oh...my...God...
Does the company really need that much protection from its own employees?

Anonymous said...

>> I know a guy (STE) who was laid off from MSN last December and, a month later, came back to MSN as a- for $12,000 more a year

The STE role has been in the process of being phased out for 7+ years now, and people were asked to move up or out throughout the company.

The STE/SDET/SDE split is another case of disconnect between the ranks and leadership. SDET/SDE folks don't want to run manual tests and in most cases are overqualified for that type of work while the STE role is not seen as a career track role anymore. Automation efforts run into trouble because one needs the skillset of L61/L62 SDEs to make automation succeed and deal with the people aspects of the SDET role while most SDETs are L59/L60. And in some cases manual testing is just plain cheaper. The solution increasingly has been to bring back STEs as a-'s, so the former STEs are in demand :).

Anonymous said...

HR is the only group which interacts from a fresh hire to execs. HR is the only group that talks to product dev, legal, finance, support and research.

You could say the same about the janitorial staff.

Anonymous said...

More Hires and More Dysfunction:
Working in the IT side of the company, we are asked to perform the dual role of cutting costs and doing more with less. not to mention a new draconian po policy and getting the cio to approve every new little project, i will also have to follow enhanced sox processes to wipe my ass the next time i go to the can and send an email with voting buttons to 50 people assigned at random by a yet to be built application for such purposes. come on! it just is not fun to work here at ms any more at all. and to think that we are being asked by management (steveb in particular) to improve on our abilities to 'execute' - it is just insane. if we really want to execute we need to drop all the red-tape processes that prevent agility and can some of the management and other consultants who think this is what our company needs. what we really need in this company are people who have f**king ideas. ritght now we have accountants, auditors and earnings per share analysts who have never cut a line of code in their lives, who don't know a compiler from an adding machine and who are running this company straight into the ground. perhaps, like flight simulator, they think if they make a mistake it can all be reset and they can try it again. fat chance.

Anonymous said...

I'm not nor have I even been in HR.

To a large degree, HR is there to protect the company from its employees: lawsuits, theft, inappropriate behavior that results in lawsuits (sometimes), "policy" violations, etc.

Let's be realistic: HR is there as a tool for management, not as a benefit for employees. This is why going to HR about your manager is almost never (at least not in my exp) a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Where's Blake? There goes Blake Irving, another Corporate VP:

After working with MSN, I would hope that the new blood will bring a change in ethics there, but I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

The "HR" person is almost certainly a troll. (I fed the troll, not once but twice. My bad.)

There's no way HR can be that self-centered, empire-building, and totally out of touch with reality, even at Microsoft. Is there?

Please tell me that this has to be a troll. Please tell me this person doesn't reflect reality at Microsoft.

MSS

Anonymous said...

"So once again what is the value delivered by HR that requires this much scale? I found it very amusing you never articulated the value of HR beyond saying "we are in contact with new hires to execs in all disciplines" - you are in contact doing what?"

It's really sad to see all the internal finger-pointing and devisiveness. From outside, at least, there seems to be more than enough blame to go around. More importantly, how do you folks expect to ever successfully battle GOOG, AAPL and other major current threats if your energies are consumed in this private circle-jerk?

Anonymous said...

The project leader for Bob was Karen Fries, a Microsoft researcher.

Lol, leave the Fries alone. Their whole damn family has worked at MS - they deserve a break. The best dev I ever met at MS worked on Bob. Bob may have sucked, but they had good folks on that team.

Anonymous said...

what we really need in this company are people who have f**king ideas.

This is not going to happen, because there is no way for someone to significantly benefit from developing any new idea inside Microsoft. $1500 for a patent application or a $5k "gold star" award are insignificant compared to what someone can earn by keeping their killer ideas to themselves, leaving Microsoft, and forming a start-up.

Anonymous said...

It's really sad to see all the internal finger-pointing and devisiveness. From outside, at least, there seems to be more than enough blame to go around. More importantly, how do you folks expect to ever successfully battle GOOG, AAPL and other major current threats if your energies are consumed in this private circle-jerk?

That's a fair point to make. But this divisiveness is what results when a company has grown so large without strong leadership. When there is no vision or direction, people form small fiefdoms to pursue their own personal agendas and to protect what they have. And who can blame them? Competition with smart companies like Google and Apple is hard work. You have to constantly reevaluate and reinvent what you are doing. You have to move outside of your comfort zone and take risks. But no one is going to do that if they lack faith in their leadership and there are no rewards in taking those risks. Our leaders can't even articulate and stick to a strong message. A lot of fingers can, and should, be pointed. Personally, I think Gates and Ballmer should take the lion-share of the blame for their hubris and tremendous lack of vision over the past eight years, but there are certainly other executives that have made life very difficult to those of us trying to do good work. The astonishing amount of process burden that HR adds shouldn't escape a (the) finger either.

Anonymous said...

Lisa Brumel is starting a new listening tour to listen to employees.

Many people in this blog are confused in the middle of culture change.

Give feedback in townhall and be part of culture change.

Anonymous said...

Via Fake Steve Jobs:

http://www.betanews.com/article/Gartenberg_Quits_Microsoft_Returns_to_Jupiter/1173295994

Dude couldn't survive a month around here. At least he will now have some horror stories to tell.

Anonymous said...

Actually, read a bit more about AC21 -- there is no need to file any forms[...]

Frankly, I cannot speak to how easy or hard this is from the since I was born here and haven't been through it personally. However, I have known many H1-B visa holders, and none of them have painted a rosy picture with regard to thier choices. My understanding is that post 9/11, the INS got seriously backlogged on immigration requests, particularly from Russia, India and southeast Asia, and a number of applicants were pushed back *years* - H1-B holders getting a particular low-priority status. The folks I know have been stuck (or felt stuck) with their arrangement because they were in immigration limbo.

One guy I know has been working for the same contract agency for 5 years, being flown to whereever they want to put him whether he likes it or not. His fear is that losing or changing his job will put his citizenship application at risk. Whether or not this is true, his fear keeps him in place.

Another guy I knew at Microsoft is probably the best SQL Engineer I have ever met. Everyone at MS is bright and capable (or at least somewhat competent), but there are a few people I call Aces - guys who have an uncanny natural ability to "see" the system and who have few peers - and this guy was one. Despite his incredible value to the company, he was unable to advance far because he could not change his job description. As one poster mentioned could be done, HR and management stretched his level to accommodate as much as they could without changing his job function, but he was still placed far below his worth. Once he got his green card, it was like a rubber-band effect into the upper eschelons of IC-dom. But at least he was with MS, and they seem to treat their H1-B holders like human beings.

BTW - I feel it is inane for a contract agency to land H1-B workers when the roles they are trying to fill are not their own. The point of the program is to fill roles you are missing, not what someone else is bidding out. Washington is not paying attention.

Anonymous said...

Chris Pirillo - Just another fucking moron who wants to bitch about Vista and not get his problems resolved. If he were a tech "expert", he'd know where to go to get help, or at least he'd know enough to post the details of his issues to try to help other readers. His rant provides no value (yeah, much like this post, yet I'm not cocky enough to have my own blog to post every mindfart I ever had). I am so god damn tired of reading these USELESS posts where people claim that Vista is a POS. In many of the posts, the people run the OS for a day or two and don't even bother following up on *any* issues they may have. Yet they somehow think that magic will happen, and 6 months from now a
service pack will be crapped out that will somehow fix all of these issues. Idiots.

Vista runs GREAT on the 3 year old PC I have in my office. In that 3 years, I believe the only upgrade to the machine was the < $100 I spent on RAM because I run a bunch of apps at the same time. RAM is a cheap upgrade. You don't need a new PC for Vista.

Now to respond to some of Mini's comments:

Team compensation - I love it. I know we wouldn't be getting partner-level money, but I sure hope we can get their metrics. I'd love to miss earnings targets and still somehow rate a > 100% bonus.

"Is your group lacking talent to execute?"

On the plans that we provide to management - no

On the schedules that management provides to us - yes


I don't know how much clearer it needs to be to senior mgmt that we clearly have some incompetent fools in the lower managment ranks. Are we shipping something else the size of Vista? Then WTF do we another 10k people here?

GROSS MISMANAGEMENT OF RESOURCES!!!!

Career Compass - Christ, what a nightmare that thing is. Tons of busy work, and nothing that I think will ever make a difference in my career. But on the plus side, it did force me to look at how long I've been in my various roles, which helps me get started on my resume.
----
Oh, and one last rant - I had high hopes for Lisa's blog. But she doesn't respond to posts, so it's a wasted effort. But kudos to the anonymous posters over there who don't care what the posted topic is...they just rant about whatever is on their minds :)

Anonymous said...

You have to give some credit to Lisa, she is obviously trying but ultimately what she needs to drive is a cultural change and that takes a very long time. Aside the communication approach she is taking, which is a least daring, HR has taken couple of steps in the right direction. The effort to change the notion that everyone has to become a manager as a way to succeed is valid but again clashes with many years of tradition. You only have to attend couple of executive talks to hear again and again that what matters the most at the top is people management. That message is impossible to reconcile with the individual contributor career path that HR is selling as part of the new career stage profiles. The hard truth is that individual contributors have it way more difficult than managers to reach the top levels and this continues to fuel the supply of lousy managers. Management training and efforts targeted to cultivate better managers are all good but what is really needed is an effective way to measure performance and hold managers accountable. Bringing them back to the individual contributor path is not good enough. If you pick the management path as your career model and you screw up, you lose your job, period. Same as individual contributors. That is the culture we need and so far we don't have it.

Anonymous said...

what we really need in this company are people who have f**king ideas.

I have some advice for idea people. If you have a f**king great idea then keep your mouth shut. Unless you can deliver your idea 1:1 to a VP then keep it under your hat. If you submit it into the MS hierarchy some psychophant will steal, appropriate or otherwise hijack your brilliance. It will be presented back to you later - by powerpoint or some other means - and you will be expected to clap politely while somebody you don't respect walks off with your promotion and pay increase. Only then will you know the true meaning of the phrase: "the Microsoft way." If your idea is truly worthy then swing for the fence. Otherwise forget it.

Anonymous said...

FYI, congrats to the newest MS exec: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/charney/default.mspx
(I guess TwC really is important now, it has a Corporate VP!)

Also, ditto on the HR stuff. Our campus can't even seem to keep an HR person on staff...funny...I never even missed them...

Anonymous said...

1)For the person who gave out the contractor salary ... I am joining as an FTE.

2)One of the pre-conditions of an h1B visa is that the company proves that it is paying a fair market wage. Infact one of the required documents is the offer letter with the annual salarly clearly spelt out. There are firms who try to circumvent this, but those are mostly fly-by-nigh toperators - not firms like microsoft.

3) So you think that Sw Enggs could be worth $250k pa if not for those pesky immigrants? umm.. lets see if you want a closed-system with respect to labour then it is only fair to pair it to a closed system with respect to markets. ie. the people whom you dont want to let into the US, also make sure that your products dont enter their countries. The4 biggest growth market for US firms - including MS lie outside the US. If new markets are closed to you, then forget $250k.. we may end up wishing for the 'good old days' of being able to make a living as a programmer at all to come back.. be careful what you wish for...

4)Regarding quitting...Quitting while you are on an H1B visa is a breeze. Doing so when you are waiting for your green card pushes you to the end of the (5 year long) queue.

5)regarding all the "extra" people - the number of people never was and never was a problem for MS. it is the organisation of those people into effective groups that is the issue. Smaller autonomous teams are the answer.. but then this horse has been beaten to death...

by: NewlyAssimilated

Anonymous said...

"That's a fair point to make. But this divisiveness is what results when a company has grown so large without strong leadership. When there is no vision or direction, people form small fiefdoms to pursue their own personal agendas and to protect what they have. And who can blame them? Competition with smart companies like Google and Apple is hard work. You have to constantly reevaluate and reinvent what you are doing. You have to move outside of your comfort zone and take risks. But no one is going to do that if they lack faith in their leadership and there are no rewards in taking those risks. Our leaders can't even articulate and stick to a strong message. A lot of fingers can, and should, be pointed. Personally, I think Gates and Ballmer should take the lion-share of the blame for their hubris and tremendous lack of vision over the past eight years, but there are certainly other executives that have made life very difficult to those of us trying to do good work. The astonishing amount of process burden that HR adds shouldn't escape a (the) finger either."

Nicely stated in a tone less frantic than most! Nice to hear it in a nutshell when it's not YELLING! Thanks for that.

On another note, and...back to yelling: Too many HR apologists coming out of the woodwork in the last handful of posts. Given that nobody gives a rat's ass about defending HR other than HR it must be...well...HR speaking.

Lisa, give it up! Tell your HR team to let it go. There's no way to make HR into a essential profit core. Just make it a place people feel comfortable coming to and can TRUST; so far, you've failed.

IMHO, you need to let go of the fact that you and SteveB are buds. He's no great shakes and...should HE GO DOWN, you will too. When he's gone (it's inevitable) what are you going to do? Believe me, it won't be HR. Start planning and taking care of yourself. Soul search. Follow your bliss! It doesn't seem to be HR. You didn't plan for it in college and...the universe is not opening up to assist you, here. You're trying too hard and you're like an American Idol with great talent but singing the wrong song!

Anonymous said...

what we really need in this company are people who have f**king ideas

Oh, we already have them. What we really need are leaders who know what to do with ideas. I had a fucking idea that wasn't even all that novel, just taking something we'd already done one place and applying it to another. My boss just flat-out dismissed it because it might not work. He'd rather have me spend my time randomly shuffling menu items around so our users can't find them anymore. Guaranteed we can finish that task, for whatever good it does.

I went to TechFest yesterday. There were some lame ideas (what was up with that leaf-wheel camera thing?), but there were at least a dozen ideas that would make killer products today if we developed them. I doubt we'll do anything with more than one or two.

There's some Bob-bashing going on, but the Bob-hate may really be one of our problems. Bob sucked, but I have two good things to say about it that I can't say about much else around here right now - it was an attempt at innovation, and it was executed well enough to finish.

Innovation is hard, and sometimes you misjudge what the market wants and flame-out in a spectacular failure. Failure isn't the goal, but it will happen once in a while if you're trying.

I think after Bob, we sort of quit trying. We should try more. maybe even that goofy leaf-wheel might sell.

Anonymous said...

4)Regarding quitting...Quitting while you are on an H1B visa is a breeze. Doing so when you are waiting for your green card pushes you to the end of the (5 year long) queue.

Not true:

From http://www.uscis.gov/files/pressrelease/I140_AC21_8403.pdf:

Accordingly, guidance in the June 19, 2001, memorandum provides that the labor certification or approval of a Form I-140 employment-based (EB) immigrant petition shall
remain valid when an alien changes jobs
, if:
(a) A Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, on the basis of the EB immigrant petition has been filed and remained unadjudicated for 180 days or more; and
(b) The new job is in the same or similar occupational classification as the job for which the certification or approval was initially made. This policy is still in effect and has not changed as a result of implementation of the concurrent filing process.

[...]

AC21 also provides that any underlying labor certification also remains valid if the conditions of §106(c) are satisfied.

Anonymous said...

I have some advice for idea people. ... If you submit it into the MS hierarchy some psychophant will steal, appropriate or otherwise hijack your brilliance. It will be presented back to you later - by powerpoint or some other means

Amen. I had an idea a few years ago that I presented to PM. They dismissed it outright. I found out later that they did some mockups and made a slide deck and ran the idea up the management chain right after our meetings. It didn't get done anyway due to a bunch of political nonsense. It's amazing to me that anybody's ideas ever get done.

Anonymous said...

>> So you think that Sw Enggs could be worth $250k pa if not for those pesky immigrants? umm.. lets see if you want a closed-system with respect to labour then it is only fair to pair it to a closed system with respect to markets.

A closed system with respect to markets means there would be huge tariffs on anything entering the US. Which means that the average worker will make a lot more and will have more money to spend on software. If anything $250K is an underestimate.

The healthcare industry has proven this works. Do you think doctors would make that much more if we could freely import doctors from abroad or export patients overseas.

Anonymous said...

NY Times article on how Google runs its own bus service for its employees. Maybe MSFT can do something similar with the addition of 12,000 more employees.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/10/technology/10google.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

Anonymous said...

>Lisa, give it up! Tell your HR team to let it go. There's no way to make HR into a essential profit core. Just make it a place people feel comfortable coming to and can TRUST; so far, you've failed.

-
You have to realize you are in the middle of culture change. Culture change is hard.

HR may not make profit directly but is the most important function in company. You can outsource development or marketing but not HR.

HR is the life blood of Microsoft. Without HR, no employee or exec would be (f/h)ired, no raise, no stock and no benefit.

Anonymous said...

Which means that the average worker will make a lot more and will have more money to spend on software. If anything $250K is an underestimate.

They'll make $250K alright, but the exchange rate will be 1 EUR = 5000 USD.

Ask the manufacturing sector, or the steel workers or the auto workers how well propping up wages artificially worked when the economics didn't support it.

Fred said...

HR [...] is the most important function in company.

HR is the life blood of Microsoft.

Excuse me, but you have got to be kidding.

This is the third or fourth time this ludicrous statement has been made; quite a bit of rhetorical skill was employed by other posters, refuting it; and here it is again. There is simply no reason to entertain this claim. It is baseless and absurd, on its face; to single out the lone corporate function that is not only formally indistinguishable company-to-company but industry to industry as some kind of vital bell weather is, as they say, "not even sensible enough to be wrong." So can't we just drop it?

Anonymous said...

PLEASE stop feeding the HR troll. Please.

Anonymous said...

HR is the life blood of Microsoft. Without HR, no employee or exec would be (f/h)ired, no raise, no stock and no benefit.

For cryin' out loud Mini, what are you doing letting this crap through? Do you really think the rest of us need more proof HR is full of pompous buffons? We already have to go through Career Compass and those asnine diversity traning videos after all.

Of course, HR thinks it's very special, sort of like the humans who collaborate with the aliens in crappy sci-fi movies to sell out the rest of us. Hey, HR cogs, the aliens plan to eat you too, you know. After you've replaced all the experienced (and expensive) Kim's with cheap college hires, they'll send you packing too.

Anonymous said...

I find it funny(?) that the HR troll is Chinese (or thereabouts). Look at the grammar.
As for visas: I came here (Redmond, WA) on an L1 visa, and my take-home pay immediately doubled.
The group I'm in is desperate for talent and so I find it difficult do believe that home-grown talent would be ignored in favour of an HB1. I don't know exactly how much Microsoft pays to recruit and promote an L1/HB1 visa holder to green-card status (and if they wanted cheap labour why even bother), but it's in the $10's of thousands. I have been through the process. They take care of any spouse/children too.
I don't think they are doing this just to spend some money.

Anonymous said...

Not true:

From http://www.uscis.gov/files/pressrelease/I140_AC21_8403.pdf:

Accordingly, guidance in the June 19, 2001, memorandum provides that the labor certification or approval of a Form I-140 employment-based (EB) immigrant petition shall
remain valid when an alien changes jobs ...


Um, you're wrong. The problem is that it's taking 5+ years to get the I-140 approved. It's only 6 months after that, that these better conditions come into play.

The original poster was right. It's a nightmare.

Anonymous said...

>> They'll make $250K alright, but the exchange rate will be 1 EUR = 5000 USD.

Does not directly follow. What if Europe imposed similar tariffs?

>> Ask the manufacturing sector, or the steel workers or the auto workers how well propping up wages artificially worked when the economics didn't support it.

Hardly relevant here. They tried doing that without supportive tariffs from the government. Would you buy a import if it cost twice as much as the American car?

Again, this has worked for healthcare.

Anonymous said...

Everybody knows that MARKETING is the most important function at Microsoft.

Followed by legal then finance.

Anonymous said...

I would just suggest dumping a a "wanna be director" in Live meeting (AS).

yah but seriously, this can salvage it self once the crust of the toilet is sponged.

Sadly there were great, unduely tagged KIMs who were axed before they realized the game.

Can't come back after being walked to the door after a manufactured review.

Anonymous said...

CareerCompass is a IT WhitePaper

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/itshowcase/content/feermtwp.mspx

"Facilitating Effective Employee Reviews at Microsoft"

LOL! The tool, just like the underlying process is overarchitected. At the very least they should now try and spin it off as a product - I am sure there'll be takers ;-)

Anonymous said...

"The healthcare industry has proven this works. Do you think doctors would make that much more if we could freely import doctors from abroad or export patients overseas."

Actually, this is starting to happen. I read an article a couple months ago where a big east coast company was giving the option to employees to fly to Singapore to have some surgery done. The company gave the employee half of the money it saved after travel expenses. In one of the cases, the employee received a $5000 check.

Anonymous said...

Everybody knows that MARKETING is the most important function at Microsoft.

Followed by legal then finance.

-
Marketing is not doing its job. If you see the dinosaur ads, you get what I mean.

Legal and finance are very important. More important than HR if you look at the raw numbers.

Anonymous said...

HR may not make profit directly but is the most important function in company. You can outsource development or marketing but not HR.

HR is the life blood of Microsoft. Without HR, no employee or exec would be (f/h)ired, no raise, no stock and no benefit.


Even though I remain convinced that this person is putting us on, the claim that HR can't be oursourced is demonstrably untrue. In my last job as a manager, my Volt agency representative informed me that they now had a contract to recruit FTEs for Microsoft. They would do the heavy lifting, and HR would do the paperwork. There are PLENTY of consultants out there to design policy and compensation practices. I think even the famout Gretchen of www.JobSyntax.com fame is now doing some consulting work for Microsoft. As someone else pointed out, HR is a ubiquitous function in the corporate world. Its services hardly vary from company to company. In fact, I think it would be an EXCELLENT idea to spin off the entire division into a company that would have to be paid based on its success in placing employees at MSFT.

Incidentally, I just left MSFT for a startup. Not an HR person in sight. The recruiting was handled by my boss. The company president handled the offer and the details of compensation. For health insurance, I work with a rep directly. I call a person and he answers my questions. No huge web sites. It's wonderful. I know this doesn't scale, but it certainly does show that HR is not a universally necessary function.

More importantly, all this bickering about what is core and what is peripheral does not bode well for the company. All functions play their role, and when they are all doing their jobs well, managers don't bitch about what an awful job their recruiters are doing sourcing candidates. HR will be appreciated when the hires meet the bar.

I actually feel bad for MSFT recruiters these days. They're competing with candidates for the top people, and must contstantly have to put lipstick on the pig. Can you say Google? The only guys with a worse job are the marketing folks for Vista. Vista is okay, but totally unnecessary. How do you get people excited about that?

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that a lot of the frustration and disappointment I see here from engineers at Microsoft is because you've fundamentally misunderstood what kind of a company MS really is.

MS is NOT, and has NEVER been a technology company. MS is a MARKETING company. How can you tell? Well, it was founded by an engineer (Allen) and a marketeer (Gates), and Gates is the one who ended up with the lion's share of the owership.

The great effort that Gates has put into portraying himself as an engineer doesn't change the fact that he not only couldn't even correctly code a flood-fill algorithm in BASIC, but he didn't CARE that it was broken. (as described in "Barbarians Led By Bill Gates".)

Who's running your company now? The #2 marketing dweeb, now that the #1 marketing dweeb has decided to go and try to buy himself some respectability at his wife's urging.

If you want to work for an engineering company, take a look at Monster.com or any other job search web site. Look for companies whose products you know and admire.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the offtopic. I work in Office and I've just about had it. I've looked over our O14 planning documents and tried hard to convince myself that the product will be worth 2 more years of my life. But it isn't going to happen.

Office is has a unhealthy combo of bureaucracy and senility. There are more than a few people here who are just hiding behind process to mask their own incompetence. There are even more people here who are just collecting a paycheck while newhires shoulder their work load. I've gone through a few years of this now and I'm done. I'm tired of the enforced delays in promotion. I'm tired of feeling like even our new products are just SE work. And I know alot of people, especially the younger ones, want out. But many of us don't know what's really going on in the other MS silos.

So my question is this: Office is dying. Where in MS can we start living again?

Anonymous said...


A closed system with respect to markets means there would be huge tariffs on anything entering the US. Which means that the average worker will make a lot more and will have more money to spend on software. If anything $250K is an underestimate.

The healthcare industry has proven this works. Do you think doctors would make that much more if we could freely import doctors from abroad or export patients overseas.



Actually, losing access to growth markets means that the "average worker" will be laid off/poorly paid/doing maintainence or living in china/india/ countries-with-a-growing-market.

its very simple economics - India and China are the fastest growing pc, internet, mobile phone.. you- name-it markets out there.

1)If access to these is cut off - where is MS gonna derive its growth from? - No consumer growth => no revenue growth => eventually stagnation.

2)No country has a monopoly on smart people. In conditions like these where MS has to compete for every single smart person with google et al it is suicidal to ignore 95% of the world's population (ie non US citizens).


About the healthcare industry - you do realise that a huge percentage of doctors in the US are immigrants right?
Also.. there is an acute shortage of doctors right now. Which means that a lot of people are unable to get timely medical care - or get no medical care at all.
[Sidenote - infact, in a case of the free-market reasserting itself: There is also a booming 'medical tourism' industry in countries like india where patients fly in to avail medical services. ]

So .. no it hasnt *worked* in the helthcare industry and to the degree that medical fees have gone up due to an artifically created supply-side crunch, you have to wonder at what cost to society and how sustainable is this?

Random side-question: Which groups do people think are *awesome*? and which ones should be avoided? why so?

You knows.. maybe we could do an MSPoll-like thing of our own here.. - without LisaB looking over our shoulders!

by: newly Assimilated

Anonymous said...

RE: Career Compass Whitepaper...

Holy Chingola! Now I know where the raise and bonus pool was spent and why there's only 3% left for the employees. If that's any indication of how MSFT is "simplifying" things, we're in DEEP Caca!

If we just had managers with a spine who could say "This person deserves X because they did Y and this person does not." think of the money we could both save as a company and reward employees with!

Oy vey!

(What is the rest of the world going to think when they see how complicated the MSFT review process is. It's ironic that we're actually proud of such a monstrosity.)

This is clearly proof that the devil finds work for idle hands.

Anonymous said...

I had an idea a few years ago that I presented to PM. They dismissed it outright. I found out later that they did some mockups and made a slide deck and ran the idea up the management chain right after our meetings. It didn't get done anyway due to a bunch of political nonsense. It's amazing to me that anybody's ideas ever get done.

In the instance I'm thinking of, the idea failed as well. Some will succeed, some won't. The problem was what happened to the idea. The individual who brought the idea and developed the idea was cut out of the loop. The idea continued upward. Polish was applied. The individual who eventually presented the idea was a new hire from a prestigious university who came from a "good family." His career got off to a booming start. He was given credit for the idea by proxy and was compensated in kind. He didn't execute properly and in the end ran the idea and the budget and the intended program into the ground. The point is, in many cases, Microsoft prefers to have people in place that "look" like they should be in charge, and attempt to infuse them with intelligence, vs. actually promoting smart people. I have had some luck going directly to VPs with my ideas. I haven't paid too stiff a price for this at review time either. You need to get your senior management involved. If you do a business case and invest time developing an idea then don't short yourself. If your immediate management tries to take the execs off the communication, then put them back on. It shows you're serious about the idea and about the success of the company. If you don't like that kind of exposure then don't have ideas.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 63 dev. I have an offer that match MS pay+bonus. Should I go? This is a small well-known/exciting company (now in Seattle) with less than 350 employees worldwide.

On the other hand, there's stock awards, options and my years of working hard to get to this level.

Any feedback appreaciated.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, April is approaching and a lot of options will expires worthless.

Anonymous said...

i don't know about 5 years, back, but if you are a hiring manager today and want to fill 3 or more positions in the next 6 months, and your group is not compelling enough for internal hires to consider, almost all the qualified and interested candidates you will come across will be H1Bs.

No one wants to relocate to Seattle to join Microsoft. Maybe if we were in the Valley we'd get more US-born people. Maybe if our stock was growing well we'd get some people ready to relocate here.

For now we just depened on the H1Bs from India, China, Canada, Eastern Europe.

Anonymous said...

>> So .. no it hasnt *worked* in the helthcare industry and to the degree that medical fees have gone up due to an artifically created supply-side crunch, you have to wonder at what cost to society and how sustainable is this?

Hate to burst your bubble, but licensing and regulatory hurdles have worked for the healthcare, pharmaceuticals, education and legal industries.

Prices in these industries appear to be an unfair burden to society is because other industries are not equally protected. Ask yourself if you would have issues paying for or even need health insurance or would have trouble saving for college tuition if you were making $250K a year.

As to India and China making some semblance of progress, I question how much of that is because of easy access to technology from the US. If we weren't training their people and were only exporting finished goods, we would always have the technological edge and they would be unable to rise up the value chain.

Anonymous said...

Which groups do people think are *awesome*? and which ones should be avoided? why so?

-
HR group seems pretty good

There is also the MSR group.

BizDog said...

Seems like the bleak of winter has gotten to everyone. And I'm no exception so here are some thoughts that sprung to mind as I read mini's latest and very good post:

HR: truly an important function and includes far more than "paperwork". Problem with MS is that it isn't allowed to be more than that. HR in my part of MS is beaten down by the powers that be to promote and "make legal" their personal vendettas and agendas. HR is truly here (not unique to MS by the way) to protect the legal entitiy of the corporation - period. No warm fuzzies this is legal stuff and make no mistake. If you've never read Corporate Confidential then you should. http://www.corporateconfidential.com

Visas: Yes technically you can change jobs but the reality is that is very difficult to do. Few companies are as open to visa employees as MS and leaving has significant risks. MS attrition in my mind is artificially low because of the high volume of visa employees we have in Redmond. Nothing against these people - most of them are great and they're not stupid, they know the risks of changing employers.

Management vs Leadership: We have little of either of these. Management at MS is about task management - not people, program or process management. If you are a master task master you're sure to get promoted. Leadership simply doesn't exist because by it's very existence it would challenge the old school and partner thinking which is way to uncomfortable for these people so they run out of the company anyone who even "smells" like a leader and labels them as execution deficient and not a "cultural fit" for MS.

All the various comings and goings of senior people: Just wait for BillV to get turned loose and hang on to your socks. Think about it - if the guy's best business book is Dr. Suess what does that say about his intellectual horsepower really?? Many say he's bailing out KJ who needs someone who can maneuver the techie crowd better than a long term sales and marketing guy can. Alchin is gone and BillV is filling a hole. Others leaving seem to run the gammet from frustration to forced out.

Hiring another 10k+ people: No politically correct or printable words come to mind on this one. OMG AYFKM is as close to saying what I think as I'll get. So we're going to end up even MORE matrixed than we already are?!? Say it ain't so!!! When you weave fabric really tightly no air gets through - same with organizations - too much matrix means no air which means certain death. Career Compass as a background to build a resume - that person was on track. As a company we're addicted to empire building - oh that's right, it's an ego thing, my mistake.

HR Ratio of 1:10: repeat explicative from above. So our ratio to manage our partners (who actually build and sell things on our platform which is where our platform revenue comes from) is 1:12 for our largest partners. For the mid tier it is around 1:250; for the remainder it's around 1:2000+. For customer marketing it's about the same ratios. Seems odd to me that it would take a higher ratio to manage our employees than to manage our partners and customers. Are we really that bad??? If so then that high hiring bar is a myth - but I think that anyway.

As for MYCD or whatever we're calling it this year, manager feedback and the other HR items that are top of mind: Management feedback is only anonymous if HR allows it to be (and most don't); Ditto for the MSPoll; Many managers (yes I've actually seen this happen) view poll results and manager feedback as witch hunt time so if you're smart neutral = strongly disagree and call it good. Figure out how to make your job what you want or vote with your feet (see HR comments above).

Ray: Well I admit to having been a Ray fan and thought he could be a good addition to MS. Problem is the long tall shadow of BillG and SteveB are hard to overcome. They block out all the light and you can't create a space of your own. This must be hugely frustrating for Ray combined with the "trot him out like a talking dog" shows that he has been told to do lately. Seems like a very sweet comp package might be the only thing keeping him around.

Our core problem as one of my friends put it is many of our products work better together than our people do. Fixing that is a cultural thing and all the HR tools, comp packages and other rantings won't fix this. Leadership will, but we are devoid of that at the moment.

I'd love to see MS really lead and own a market again. I work here because I really did come to the company wanting to have a huge and hugely positive impact on people and technology. Very few companies are in a position to even try to do this let alone succeed. MS is one of the few who can! Trying to find enough people who really feel this way and are willing to stick their necks out to do it is impossible from what I've seen in recent years. We're wasting precious opportunity and it's a shame. This isn't about world domination - it's about world leadership.

Anonymous said...

MS is NOT, and has NEVER been a technology company. MS is a MARKETING company. How can you tell? Well, it was founded by an engineer (Allen) and a marketeer (Gates), and Gates is the one who ended up with the lion's share of the owership.

So true. And a point that can't be repeated often enough. Gates' favorite word is innovation. Possibly he believes by saying the word frequently enough it will undo nearly 35 years of MS history. When the industry was young and development cycles shorter you could copy competitors and suffocate them with stock-option fueled greed and 80 hour work weeks. That game has run out. Now Microsoft actually does have to innovate.

BizDog said...

One more comment...

For all the back and forth on which function is most important - give me a break. All functions are important for a company to run well. Depending on the strategy and marketing conditions some may be for a time slightly more or less important at any given moment. Saying one function is "the most important" is like saying one member of your family is the only one who matters. Surely we're not all that silly.

Keeperplanet said...

Re: Plenty of Room For More Brains and ideas? Weee don't need no "f**king ideas" (to paraphrase a line from 'Sierra Madre and 'Blazing Saddles'). You need a realistic strategy.

Message to Gates, Ray, Mini et al: Below is my shareware strategic model for Microsoft to adopt. If you use this model, please do the right thing and remit 100,000 MSFT shares at current value, as I am dirt poor and need some kind of retirement and health insurance too:

1. The first step is to switch from a leveraged business model to a 'voice of the customer' model Here is what it would look like:

2. Release (sell) XBOX division so they can compete directly with all hardware manufacturers (i.e., I am SONY, Apple, Dell, HP, etc. etc.). Partners would still be free to buy or convert all the XBOX stock they wanted and Microsoft would be completely fee of the anti-competitive stigma by focusing on Software.

3. Second level split would be Operating Systems only, spinning off all the rest so that office systems would be free to write software compatible with all the other OS manufacturers out there, allowing MS to sit back and collect royalties for fifty years. Everybody survives or dies by competing and giving customers what they want thereby making their money the honest way.

The OS company needs to be free of all the stigma of monopolistic behavior and focus specifically on giving customers (users of devices requiring an operating system to function). You then sell software back to XBOX and to other manufacturers (traditional Dell, HP, Gateway, etc.) as well as software competitors companies like Red Hat, Suse, Corel, etc. to provide full integration with proprietary Microsoft formats etc.

4. Understand that as a monopoly, you can always lower prices to compete with `free' competitors. A free Linux offering has a comfort cost to get people to try it. You can meet the comfort cost by lowering software costs from $300+ $1000 for the machine to around $39 plus no (new) machine required (by removing all the restrictive code like drm, 'ET' call home hooks, registry that has to be cleaned every day,any other crap that slows down the computer) Others will take your business if you don't do it anyway, so why not?

At some point, on a world wide basis, software offerings, like gas, will permeate evenly throughout the planet. Why not work to make this happen and profit from it instead of fighting it and be relegated to the dumpster of companies unable to adapt to change.

5. While you can keep offering the big bang version (Vista as is) in the short term for the higher $, offering the lower cost subscription model broadens your market to meet individual and world economic realities. This could be a license free version that can be upgraded annually. The way to do this is allow purchasers to use the software like a commodity that has a one year warranty, after that they can buy support or be on their own. There are all kinds of ways to offer this, i.e., with support=more money, without support=$39 or with limited support(all service packs included for one year=$49 and so on. The $39 buys a base disk and updates that affect liability and does not self destruct after the one year. Grow new markets with what you have, don't shrink them because you want to jail 50,000 so called `poor Russian teacher pirates'. Make friends not enemies.

Anonymous said...

"...Should I go?..."

Why are you asking us? What do YOU think? Would you rather be safe in what you know, or take a little risk on something new? I suppose, if you have to ask, you should probably just stay put.

But, having just left (as a 63 dev), I'm pretty happy as a tiny startup. So, if it were me, I'd go.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 63 dev. I have an offer that match MS pay+bonus. Should I go? This is a small well-known/exciting company (now in Seattle) with less than 350 employees worldwide.

On the other hand, there's stock awards, options and my years of working hard to get to this level.

Any feedback appreaciated.


Short answer:
Yes

Long answer:
The fact that you interviewed for a job elsewhere tells me you aren't satisfied with your current position. There's a big market for competent developers out there, there is NO EXCUSE for staying in a position you don't enjoy. If MS currently considers you a top-notch employee, you won't have a problem coming back if things don't work out (most likely at a higher level even). If MS doesn't currently consider you a top-notch employee, you won't be rising in the ranks anytime soon anyway, so you might as well take a chance on a new position. If MS is the only place you've ever worked (internships don't count), I *HIGHLY* encourage you to see what working for other companies is like. You'll probably have to work harder on a wider variety of tasks at a smaller company, but there will also be more options for rewards and advancement.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm a 63 dev. I have an offer that match MS pay+bonus. Should I go? This is a small well-known/exciting company (now in Seattle) with less than 350 employees worldwide.

On the other hand, there's stock awards, options and my years of working hard to get to this level.

Any feedback appreaciated.


Are you serious? You're asking for feedback after only offering this paltry amount of data?

Go to Adobe. Or not. But actually grow a pair and make a decision for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Career Compass... good lord that they'd go and publish whitepaper on that.

It wasn't enough for HR to screw around w/the review process and form every review period to justify their existance. No! They had to come up w/CSPs, Career Compas and force us to use crappy Infopath. Infopath has so many weird editing/formatting quirks and I've even gotten it to throw up XML error dialogs by hitting Enter followed by the up arrow key a few times! Thanks, that helps a lot when I'm in the middle of editing my text.

This is surely a sign that HR has too many people and too much of a budget.

I've been at MS more than 9 years now, and I'm just sick of the review BS, esp. the current process. I overheard in the hallway that this new process is even way more work for managers too. Way to go!

Even though I'm a tester, it should be obvious that dev is by far the most important set of people in the company. Without dev, we'd have no software to sell. Let's try having HR write code, test it and sell it. Most of them couldn't code worth beans if their life depended on it. People in dev roles could (if needed) substitute for almost all the other roles in the company other than maybe finance and legal.

On a side note, regarding overcompensated execs and partners. We had an all hands meeting let by our VP awhile back where he wasted (IMHO) a lot of it trying to come up with a "culture" for our division. Who cares? We're fricking busy and need to get our product out the door.

Leaving after my product ships and going elsewhere or maybe coming back as an a- is looking more interesting...

Anonymous said...


Any feedback appreciated.

Are you serious? You're asking for feedback after only offering this paltry amount of data?

Go to Adobe. Or not. But actually grow a pair and make a decision for yourself.


I'm the org poster, I've made up my mind. I'm just trying to look for any feedback that contains points about why stay in MS.

That MSFT will hit $35 in 2 months.

That LIVE are so close to GOOG that we are making $$$ again.

That we have a new branding for MSN and hire additional 10k new employee to compete.

That Vista will sell so well we blow our sales projection.

That we are winning the new RIA over from Adobe.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 63 dev. I have an offer that match MS pay+bonus. Should I go?

Ten reasons you should go:

1. Bureaucracy and politics are rampant.
2. Your manager adds more noises and harassments than value.
3. So many weak “managers” hide behind process and play politics.
4. your team could be more productive with half the people (40% PM, 40% Test, 70% Dev).
5. Career path for senior IC does not really exist.
6. It’s more about “perception and expectation” than really getting things done.
7. Hard to maintain integrity and honest (“Emperor's new clothes are beautiful”).
8. Partners got $1M SA, you get pay increase less than inflation.
9. Your MS experience will worth less and less outside.
10.Pathetically you have nothing to lose.

Anonymous said...

Um, you're wrong. The problem is that it's taking 5+ years to get the I-140 approved. It's only 6 months after that, that these better conditions come into play.

For people who didn't file I-140 before EB visa retrogression, it is nightmare, I agree.

However, I was lucky to file for a I-140 before retrogression, so I am good. Timeline: 2.5+ years waiting for labor certificate, 2 months for I-140. I am in adjustment of status phase for last 1.5 years (waiting for my date to become current).

Yeah, I heard it is good on outside, too :)

Anonymous said...

HMMM. The tester speaketh:

Even though I'm a tester, it should be obvious that dev is by far the most important set of people in the company. Without dev, we'd have no software to sell. Let's try having HR write code, test it and sell it. Most of them couldn't code worth beans if their life depended on it. People in dev roles could (if needed) substitute for almost all the other roles in the company other than maybe finance and legal.

Ummm, you're new here, right?

Do you know how many "Microsoft" products were actually developed by someone else and then SOLD to Microsoft? Pretty much all of them. Even DOS was purchased outright from Seattle Computer Products before it was sold to IBM for the PC.

Then there's this gem: People in dev roles could (if needed) substitute for almost all the other roles in the company other than maybe finance and legal.

Talk about ROTFLMAO!

Granted, many dev's are sharp people (I was one for about 20 years). BUT, being a sharp dev does not mean being universally sharp (in spite of how many think of themselves). In fact, it often means quite the opposite. Sure, like I said, some (the distinct minority) have quite a diverse set of talents, but the vast majority wither in face of another human being, let alone trying to communicate coherently in front of a crowd so scratch PM, Marketing, and, heaven forbid, sales and anything involving direct customer contact.

Then, have you seen any of them try to write (in English, not C# or C++)?! Even for those whose mother tongue is English, formatting a coherent sentence, let alone an entire paper or documenting an API set (you know, so other devs can use it) is often beyond humorous. Never mind, those who only recently learned (i.e. are still learning) English.

No. Let's keep the devs doing what they do best (which is hopefully writing secure and reliable code) and remember that like the Goalie, just because you're not kicking the ball all over the field all day doesn't mean you're not an essential part of the team.

This whole "who's the best" argument reminds me of a story:

The parts of the body were debating this very topic, once. Of course the brain said it was the most important because it controlled everything in the body. The heart quickly pointed out that without it, the brain wouldn't work very long at all. The stomach said, that it was the most important because it's what made the energy for the heart and the brain to function. The Muscles said that they were most important because they helped put the food in the mouth for the stomach to digest, and the heart to pump.

This went on for a while, with each body part pointing out how it performed a vital service until the asshole had heard enough. It finally, without saying anything, clamped down and stopped working.

The stomach quit digesting stuff because it had nowhere to go. The muscles got weak, the brain got fuzzy and eventually all the organs agreed that the asshole was the most important part of the body.

So, just remember that when you start thinking that you're the most important one.

Anonymous said...

It is ludicrous that in the name of culture change, we are adding more dead weight and hiring/promoting buffoons.

The HR thread is one great example of buffoonery.

Career compass is one such thing which doesnt add any value. It did provide employment and promotions for the HR army.

Anonymous said...

>> I'm a 63 dev. I have an offer that match MS pay+bonus. Should I go?

Depends on if you are getting good SA. L63 SA should add $25K+ to your income. Can you do without that kind of money?

Anonymous said...

Which groups do people think are *awesome*? and which ones should be avoided? why so?

-
HR group seems pretty good

There is also the MSR group.


Neither of which, coincidentally are accountable for any results.

Anonymous said...

Let me throw some light on the H1B/AC21/Green Card issue. I have been neck deep in this process so I know how it works, mostly. People born in India, China and Philippines currently face a huge backlog of available green cards. This means that a LOT of them simply cannot even file the I-485 application. You CANNOT switch jobs unless your I-485 has already been filed and is pending. So if your I-140 is approved and you cannot even file the I-485, you are stuck with the company. There is absolutely nothing you can do about it except quitting and going back to your home country.

Hope that clarifies things.

Yes, its very frustrating. I cannot just quit the company if I get a bad review. I can switch orgs, but most orgs have a policy not to hire anyone with a bad review in the past. If you get a good manager who treats you fairly, consider yourself lucky. Very lucky.

-NoGCYet

Anonymous said...

Day by day, the special feeling of being a Microsoft employee is just fading away. I felt good about joining Microsoft because I believed only top talent makes it. We are hiring too many mediocre people to help the existing mediocre talent get their job done. From what I have seen in more than one large software company, the top 20% get more done than the other 80%. I am just afraid that this ratio is turning into 10 and 90 at MS. Some people need so much help with their work and some people do such rubbish work that its just a huge burden on the top talent who are so passionate about the software we build that they feel the need to jump in and make it all good. I feel so sad. There are so many smart people at Microsoft. Can the top 20% just be separated out into Microsoft 2.0? If I dont qualify, I'll quit and join another company.

Anonymous said...

Re: Plenty of Room For More Brains and ideas? Weee don't need no "f**king ideas" (to paraphrase a line from 'Sierra Madre and 'Blazing Saddles'). You need a realistic strategy.

No, we DO need ideas. Apple is a $75B company instead of bankrupt because they sell a really shiny MP3 player. Google is a $140B company because they make a really good search engine. Microsoft is a $267B company because we make an operating system and productivity package.

Read The Tipping Point. It's human nature to think that if something is more complicated or requires more effort, it should/will be rewarded more. Hence all the strategies and visions and interconnected collaboration software-as-a-service web platform architectures at Microsoft.

That's a lot of work when all we really need to do is get behind something as simple as a piece of cheap consumer electronics. I will continue to be unimpressed with Ray Ozzie and anyone in upper management until they come up with a vision like this.

Apple hasn't dominated the phone market yet. We could try to make a killer phone--instead of one that looks/feels like a less intuitive version of Windows 3.1...

Anonymous said...

From what I have seen in more than one large software company, the top 20% get more done than the other 80%. I am just afraid that this ratio is turning into 10 and 90 at MS.

-
It is more like 2 and 98. Only 2% of the population is partners.

Anonymous said...

"when all we really need to do is get behind something as simple as a piece of cheap consumer electronics."

So that is the `vision' of 70000 coders? Make cheap consumer products? Been there done that. While I will submit its a free country becoming a free world, and MS has the right to make consumer electronics, I also submit that the vision has been lost and altered into something that Microsoft and even XBOX division does not understand.

What is not understood is the strategy undermines the part that brung ya., i.e., the software stupid.

To capitulate to Apple's closed box strategy which is limited from a strategy that has made Microsoft so dominant that world governments are perplexed on how to slow it down, is madness and fraught with an attitude of worshiping objects instead of serving customers.

I was in Walmart the other day, walked past the glass display case with all the Zunes where the Ipods used to be. Ask Walmart if they are selling. Even if they were flying off the shelves, it would still compete with your partner customers. Maybe Gates is placing a hedge bet that the software OS business is going away. Be careful what you bet on, you might win the bet.

Anonymous said...


Depends on if you are getting good SA. L63 SA should add $25K+ to your income. Can you do without that kind of money?


Or you can treat it as an investment to get pre-IPO options. You stand a chance to be a millionaire. Who knows??? GO.

Anonymous said...

We could try to make a killer phone--instead of one that looks/feels like a less intuitive version of Windows 3.1...

Yeah, you could try, but it won't work. Apple succeeded not through superior hardware design or superior interface design (although their new phone appears to have both) but through their OS engineering.

What a lot of posters here don't seem to sufficently acknowledge is that Apple:

1) took advantage of their small market share in order to throw out their legacy OS'

2) thus freed from the crippling albatros of backwards compatibility, created a reasonably architected OS;

3) as a direct result was able to do the following:

a) easily implement search
b) move to intel fast
c) make that phone.

The iPhone is not an "interface achievement"; it's a "scalable OS achievement." Microsoft people need to realize that "it's the OS, stupid" (borrowing the line from politics): Apple's modular, portable, scalable, non-legacy-compatible operating system is what makes everything else they do move. It's in the phone; it's in the iTunes store (WebObjects' version of J2EE); it's in the AppleTV; it's everywhere.

Microsoft will make a good phone the day they can put the desktop version of windows into a handheld device, the way Apple just did. All the mode-switching and icon-zooming and movie-playing and texting-interface tricks are direct, unedited ports of technology that was developed and perfected for the desktop.

I'm not "evangelizing"; just making a point about software.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the 10:1 employee-HR ratio the same one the Stasi used when apportioning informers in East Germany?

Anonymous said...

>"Apple hasn't dominated the phone market yet. We could try to make a killer phone--instead of one that looks/feels like a less intuitive version of Windows 3.1..."

I suppose you mean that iPhone that does not support 3G, is so expensive, it will be essentially a relatively lower volume piece of jewelry for all the Apple advocates who must have it. You want to compete with yourself instead of fixing and improving the small device UI that you already sell? Already you have more software in phone users hands than Apple will ever have hardware. I guess thats what Mini means by room for more brains at Microsoft.

While you lament your own company's voice in the wilderness to address issues like this from Google and others: "Google Television engineering targets mass TV personalization:
http://blogs.zdnet.com/micro-markets/?p=1091

At least if you are going to design a phone, I sure hope you have someone design it this time who knows what they're doing. But I submit the real money is in the intellectual parts of software, interconnectivity and profitability for partners.

Anonymous said...

>> We are hiring too many mediocre people to help the existing mediocre talent get their job done.

So true. I've been on shared loops and was surprised at some of the hiring decisions by teams. Lowering the hiring bar is a race to the bottom. Now I am planning to get more people so I have spare mentoring resources I can use to lower my hiring bar.

Anonymous said...

Day by day, the special feeling of being a Microsoft employee is just fading away.

The "special" place that Microsoft held in the market and in people's minds is slipping away. We don't work in an environment that encourages critical discussion so all we're left with is creeping realizations. You're not alone.

Anonymous said...

Talk about ROTFLMAO!
Granted, many dev's are sharp people ... some (the distinct minority) have quite a diverse set of talents, but the vast majority wither in face of another human being, let alone trying to communicate coherently in front of a crowd ...
Then, have you seen any of them try to write (in English, not C# or C++)?! ... formatting a coherent sentence, let alone an entire paper or documenting an API set (you know, so other devs can use it) is often beyond humorous.


Replace "devs" with "blacks" or "women" and this is unacceptable vitriol, but I guess you feel secure insulting umpteen thousand of your coworkers and neighbors by calling us socially and linguistically inept. (BTW, your comment is rife with spelling, grammar, and especially punctuation errors. How ironic.)

It would be interesting to see some numbers on how successful devs are when they transfer to other (perhaps more customer- or public-facing) positions. The few devs I know who've chosen to transfer to PM, sales, and marketing have been extremely successful.

Anonymous said...

>> iPhone that does not support 3G, is so expensive, it will be essentially a relatively lower volume piece

That's the strategy dude. It's all pre-calculated. They nearly ALWAYS release the top of the line model first, except if top of the line and bottom of the line don't target overlapping segments of the market. In nine months, there will be a $300 iPhone without 3G and $500 one with 3G. People who bitch about 3G conveniently forget two things: for one, it's not that widely deployed, so if you travel, 3G capabilities are far from guaranteed everywhere, for two, the phone has wi-fi which is deployed in every god damn coffee shop and airport by now. Show me another decent smartphone with wifi built in.

Anonymous said...

>Show me another decent smartphone with wifi built in.

dude, its not a smart phone. Its a umpc so small you might be able to post one line responses on Mini. There are a lot of good ideas in there, none of which are worth even $300. Stick with the software and let others screw up the interface.

Anonymous said...

Show me another decent smartphone with wifi built in.

HTC S710

Anonymous said...

Any feedback appreciated.

Are you serious? You're asking for feedback after only offering this paltry amount of data?

Go to Adobe. Or not. But actually grow a pair and make a decision for yourself.


I'm the org poster, I've made up my mind. I'm just trying to look for any feedback that contains points about why stay in MS.

That MSFT will hit $35 in 2 months.

That LIVE are so close to GOOG that we are making $$$ again.

That we have a new branding for MSN and hire additional 10k new employee to compete.

That Vista will sell so well we blow our sales projection.

That we are winning the new RIA over from Adobe.


You're a L63? Everything you've listed above can only at best be speculative for anyone to provide you any kind of meaningful feedback.

Is your deal at Abobe not all that good? What are you afraid of? That a unicorn will appear and the stock will suddenly be on a late-90's trajectory? If you think that's going to happen, then stay. If you think your going to achieve more career growth at Adobe, then go. One of the few good managers I ever had here used to tell me that I needed to be the one to protect myself. No one else is going to do it for me. You should protect yourself. Do what's in your best interest.

Cynically yours,

Anonymous

Anonymous said...

"2) thus freed from the crippling albatros of backwards compatibility, created a reasonably architected OS;"

Are you serious? Ask IBM how much business they've got locked in on backwards compatibility. Ask Sun the same. In fact, ask any major software vendor what they think of breaking backwards compatibility.

I can think of only one major player that's surviving with negligible interest in backwards compatibility, and it only works for them because most of their apps have ready source code availability. Note that them taking over the desktop has become a yearly running gag.

You statement is the silliest thing I've heard in awhile.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be an awful lot of inflated egos from HR people and Dev's around these parts, so I guess it's up to me to set things straight.

If you really want to know what the problem here is at a fundamental level, it's that we are surrounded by incompetent executive management and entirely too many bit-head driven engineers.

We can code the best and most technically complex piece of code on the planet, but if our customers can't use it, it's worthless. We need to place a MUCH larger emphasis on the User eXperience and start looking at DESIGN as a key compoenent that can set us apart and elevate us to the level we need to be at to compete effectively in this new market.

Customers are a lot more savvy these days as to what good design is, and they know if an app works for them or not. We need to look at our problems from a completely different view and turn our process inside-out. We should be looking at designing apps from both the technical need and how the UI should flow before we start coding anything.

I could go on, but you get my drift. It takes all of us to ultimately ship the products, but we need to take a step back and re-evaluate how we are doing things if we expect to create change and elevate ourselves to the next level.

Anonymous said...

You statement is the silliest thing I've heard in awhile.

Your reaction is the silliest thing I've read in a while. Come on, think. Use your head. Vista took five years because it had to work with legacy APIs, a legacy file system (since WinFS was cancelled), legacy driver issues, etc.

Mac OS X threw away backwards compatibility, and, as a direct result, they can put out a new OS every year, make search that works (since they re-did the entire file system), make translucent graphics that don't affect system speed (since they're located at the correct altitude in the stack, based on Core Graphics, BENEATH the GUI, unlike Aero), and scale the OS to fit in the phone.

I've never heard anyone, even the most rabid pro-Windows/anti-Mac zealots, object to this point. It's not a matter of opinion; it's fact. I have to conclude (based on your IBM reference) that you're a sales person who doesn't understand OS architecture.

Anonymous said...

Re: Random side-question: Which groups do people think are *awesome*? and which ones should be avoided? why so?

I work for Windows Server - Terminal Services. and believe that my group is *awesome*. Four reasons:

1. We already make money and are profitable and hence are not playing catch-up. TS is the highest per capita money making unit in Windows Server and from what I heard last we were second in the company (first used to be the MS Project line of software - not sure if this is still accurate).

2. The business has competition and so we have cool exciting stuff to do that will make an impact on our bottomline ($$$) - three new big bets (that I am not detailing here) and work happening agressively on all fronts.

3. Windows Server has historically shipped more often than the client (Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2 that shipped in CY 2005, and now Windows Server codename Longhorn) - so we are never thinking about when a feature we are working on will ship. We just get stuff ready and (in the last five years) there has always been a release train to catch that is not more than two years out.

4. Very passionate set of smart people and very functional engineering and marketing teams with every member just doing their job to the fullest and contributing when needed in other roles - this is evident by the longeivity of members on the team and by the excellence of execution that we are always commended for in Windows Server land. Very minimal politics and bureaucracy with feature teams running with their work as autonomous units - feature work gets funded based purely on business justification and starts as incubations or prototypes, and when the feature team is at a stage when they feel they are ready for prime time, there is management reviews, and decisions made on when a feature should ship or if more work is needed.

Anonymous said...

re the next 10000. I sometimes wonder if Gates and Balmer are not exercising some kind of strange plan to devalue Microsoft to a point to take it private. Hmmmm.

Certainly adding bazillions of new people with nothing to do but suck down the market cap and develop an overhead that is causing product pricing to be so high place the products far above the acceptable consumer pricepoints. double-hmmmm.

Anonymous said...

RE: Terminal Server post above - speaking as an ex-TS alumnus I heartily agree, TS as an org to work for is something to definitely take a look at if you're looking around for something excellent and money-making for your next personal direction.

Anonymous said...

OS X 10.4 uses the same HFS+ file system that OS9 can talk to. In fact you can install 10.4 (with Spotlight integrated search) on top of a many older system versions without re-formatting the partition. The assertion that all old file systems were ditched is false. Spotlight does not need a new file system format on the disk, though it is integrated with the file system code.

OS X 10.4 on an Intel Mac can still run PowerPC applications in emulation at reasonable speeds, including Microsoft's current Mac Office product (notable in that it's not only PowerPC code, but on the older CFM executable format.) The assertion that all backward compatibility has been tossed out the window is false.

If anything, the 10.1 through 10.4 releases have been nice examples of how to proceed in manageable intermediate steps without massive disruption to the user base, over a mere <5 year period.

Anonymous said...

"Vista took five years because it had to work with legacy APIs, a legacy file system (since WinFS was cancelled), legacy driver issues, etc."

And yet it needs all-new display drivers which have been shaky, and a new 3D API that doesn't work on XP - DirectX 10. Oh, an if you use the new 3D API, you can't run your code on any of that "old hardware", since DX10 doesn't work on pre-GeForce 8800 GPU's.

Seems like a bigger break with the past was made in Vista, than what might be implied by the quoted post. Which might be another way of saying that hindsight is 20/20.

Anonymous said...

I agree that 10k to 12k new employees is idiotic. After many years I left the soft to join a very well known software company and was just blown away how much smaller the groups were. The were product teams of less than 30 people shipping software that was making the company 50-100 million dollars a year. And they'd done it year in and year out without ever growing. And that is pretty common. All Microsoft is doing is creating more people to get laid off when someone with a brain takes over.

Someone mentioned increasing house prices locally. Yeah, not at the wages Microsoft is paying these days. I don't know how the college hires can even afford ok apartments, let alone plan to ever be able to afford a house in this market with their salaries.

Anonymous said...

"The OPs $75K number is base salary to which you can add 17+K in medical/dental/vision/heath club, 5K in stock based compensation and 5-7K in annual bonus and the opportunity to get a merit raise every year. For the a-, it is a better deal overall to be a fte."

I'm not arguing with that. My point in response to a complaint that MS exploits contractors on H1-B visas (my reply had been edited) was that Microsoft pays a decent salary to contractors: it's not its fault (well, it is in a way but let's not split hair) that the agencies keep about 40% of it (more when they deal with women generally and/or greenhorn or negociations-shy contractors). I also was making the point that in that process of dealing with an agency-supplied contractor, process Microsoft is neutral and does not make a difference between a local or an immigrant.

There are many faults and inefficiencies in the system, but salary discrimination for cause of visa status is not one of them.

Anonymous said...

Ranting on MSN Search for a minute. How can you spend big $ building a "new" search engine with XX,000 machines behind it, and lose 50% market share from the old version? From 15% to 8%?

And the brilliant solution to regain marketshare?

Increase relevancy? NO, results don't matter.

What is the problem? People don't know it's there!

Let's have our software installs like Instant Messenger hijack user home pages! Update emoticons (who on earth pays for smileys) and hijack the home page again!

These are the default setting when you install IM and many other MSFT apps. Ah yes, they also default to changing your search provider in IE7. As if I won't "fix" these settings back to Google.

The emails gushing over how these default settings will increase market share is a sad display of incompetence.

Seriously though - stop hijacking my settings. Yes I want IM, no I dont want any of your other crap.

Anonymous said...

>You're a L63? Everything you've listed above can only at best be speculative for anyone to provide you any kind of meaningful feedback.

No sir, I am a partner and understand the business.

Anonymous said...

I'm the org poster, I've made up my mind. I'm just trying to look for any feedback that contains points about why stay in MS.

>You're a L63? Everything you've listed above can only at best be speculative for anyone to provide you any kind of meaningful feedback.

No sir, I am a partner and understand the business.


I directly report to a partner, regularly have meetings with other partners (the Windows org now has standard titles, so I know who is and isn't) and based on your original post, I would bet an entire years pay that you're not a partner. If there's anything I can say which is consistent about the partners I've met is that they are extremely pragmatic and confident. The last thing I'd see any of them doing is to ask on a public blog whether or not they should stay at Microsoft.

Simon G said...

Hi Mini
If rank-yank is still a hot button with you, here's something for Stanford about it "Business School professor Jeffrey Pfeffer ... faults businesses for spending too much time in rank-and-yank mode, grading and evaluating people instead of developing their skills."

http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2007/marapr/features/dweck.html